I sit on my porch this sunny and serene Friday morning on the cusp of another Fourth of July weekend, knowing how blessed we Americans are. But then I think about the fact that our country remains at war on two fronts, and about the men and women fighting those wars and their families.
Some of these families will be mourning sons, daughters, husbands and wives who have made the ultimate sacrifice. Others live daily with the fear that their loved one may be become another statistic or return home with lifelong physical and emotional scars. But many of us at home feel strangely disconnected from it all, largely because we don't see or hear much about these casualties in the news. Instead we are presented with round-the-clock coverage of the World Cup, Wimbledon and sportscasters who obsess about which NBA team will "score" LeBron James.
Let's take some time out. Let's switch off CNN, Fox News, ESPN and our cell phones, to think about how we can honor our fallen and their service. I humbly offer a few suggestions.
Never miss a local story.
1. Volunteer a few hours a week at a local, charitable organization.
2. Donate used clothing and furnishings to Goodwill stores.
3. Eat out a few times less a year and donate the saved money to underfunded community services.
4. Support local fundraisers and invite friends to come along.
5. Find ways to use your talent/skills to benefit others.
Decrease our dependence on foreign oil
1. Car pool to events with friends and family.
2. Bring a reusable bag to the supermarket (keep several in your car) for carrying groceries and refuse plastic bags, which are made from oil.
3. Eliminate the use of plastic water bottles; purchase a stainless steel one ($5-6); and if you prefer filtered water, use a faucet-mounted or Brita filter.
4. Recycle your trash: Plastics used in food packaging are #1-5 plastics and can recycled along with newspapers, metal cans, bottles and cardboard.
5. Drive a fuel-efficient vehicle. If you are in the market for a new car, look for one that gets 10 miles per gallon more than the one you currently drive. Spend your saved "gas money" at local businesses.
Support our men/women serving abroad
1. Ask friends to write letters or e-mails to someone you may know serving abroad.
2. Encourage young people to take the time to "friend" a troop on Facebook.
3. Donate/ship items that are needed by those in the military.
4.Support veterans and their families by voting for legislation that will improve their health care and re-integration into civilian life.
5. Pray for our troops and the wisdom of their leaders every day.
Today our country is facing many unprecedented challenges. Just saying we are patriotic or "support our troops" is no longer enough.
We everyday citizens need to step up and, yes, make some sacrifices of our own.
The writer lives in Pawleys Island.