As the Independence Day weekend unfolds, Americans from all walks of life are expressing their freedoms in a variety of celebratory ways. And celebrate they should.

The Fourth of July is one holiday which everyone who lives under the Stars and Stripes can observe. There are no religious barriers, and no regional or ethnic boundaries to hurdle. This is America’s birthday, and the celebration is one of freedom and liberty. With family and friends still engaged overseas in dangerous duty to secure those precious blessings for ourselves and others, those back home can pay tribute to our relatives, friends and fellow citizens by honoring the nation which they defend.

This year, the holiday break benefits travelers because July 4 falls on a Friday. But with the cost of travel escalating, many are choosing to stay closer to home, an option that promises an extended and busy holiday weekend at area recreational spots.

Many cities have found the Fourth of July to be the ideal time to stage a major community event. The fireworks displays staged Saturday night at Lake Brownwood and tonight in Comanche and Rising Star are examples. But other celebrations put the proper exclamation point on the occasion, and sharing this collective birthday party with others in the community is the ideal way to observe it.

The founders of this nation declared their independence and formed a new country amid a cloud of war and danger, but they nevertheless envisioned future celebrations of the nation’s birth just like the ones common in America today. But even if the observance is marked by nothing more than a family barbecue, the Fourth of July is a day when Central Texas residents should pause to take stock in many of the good things we have to share. Among them are caring neighbors, a growing economy, the freedom to worship and the ability to choose a career.

The list of liberties and blessings seems endless, and they are so abundant most Americans have come to take them for granted. In fact, most are not universally enjoyed by citizens of the world, even in the 21st century.

The freedom to enjoy good times with others — in an atmosphere of peace and security on our home territory — is one of the most important liberties for which patriots have fought. Let the fireworks continue!

Brownwood Bulletin