The patriot's blood is the seed of Freedom's tree. – Thomas Campbell
The battle is over. The greatest evil the galaxy has ever known is gone. Peace and freedom once again seem like possibilities, and hope that has been lost for a generation is renewed. Freedom, no matter what galaxy you are from, should never be taken for granted, and should always be celebrated.
As most who are familiar with Star Wars are aware, this year marks the 30th anniversary of the third movie (sixth if counting chronologically), Return of the Jedi. With July 4th upon us, I could not help but notice some correlations and similarities.
The years have been dark in that galaxy far, far away. With each passing year, the Empire, growing more ruthless, has step-by-step devoured the freedoms of the galaxy. With each step, it has become more oppressive, determined to subjugate all in its path.
Yet as dark as these days have been, there is still a ray of hope. The small light of the rebellion flickers, becoming a beacon of hope to all who seek freedom and deliverance. This small band has one simple mission – restore freedom and peace to a galaxy desperately in need of both. Having experienced both success and defeat, they are determined to fight on, never giving up on this dream.
Above the skies of the Forest Moon of Endor, and on the moon itself, the epic final battle takes place. With spacecrafts, blasters, and even simple rocks, the rebellion launches an attack that will forever change the course of that universe. As aliens of all kind strive to defeat the powerful Empire, the Emperor looks to finally end this “insignificant rebellion”.
At points in the battle, all looks lost, yet the rebels continue to fight on. Refusing to give up, they give their all, and in that one, final, breath-taking moment, the Death Star is destroyed, the Emperor and Vader are dead, and instantly, the galaxy does not seem quite so dark.
One of my favorite parts of this movie is the celebration following this momentous event. Now, I am not going to get into which celebration is better (pre- or post- special edition), but needless to say, there is some serious partying going on. As Ewoks and rebels dance, fireworks light the night sky, and the people of all planets see not a small flicker, but a bright beacon of freedom.
Watching this scene play out, I could not help but think about our own country. A country that started with its own small band of rebels, and grew into one of the most amazing stories in history – a story that is celebrated each Independence Day. Much like that final celebration, we have fireworks and parties, good food, and fun, but many times, this is where it stops.
Yes, we know what we are celebrating, but often this is lost in all the fun. At times our focus is on cookouts, fireworks, parades, or just sitting and relaxing for a day, and little thought is given to what we are really celebrating. We miss the true meaning, and a chance to pass something along to our children that can give them an appreciation for how blessed we really are.
Patriotism is not as cool as it once was, and many of the lessons from the early years of our country have been lost or simply sidelined as quaint tales. Fewer and fewer people know the stories, and what was once amazing becomes commonplace. Through simple neglect, the meaning is lost, not just for us, but for our children and future generations as well.
Is America perfect – absolutely not. Are there problems – most certainly. Have there been wrongs in the past – yes. Have mistakes been made – definitely. Are there many things to celebrate – absolutely. Are there important things we can pass along to our children from our country’s history – without a doubt, yes.
So, as we approach this 4th of July, I encourage you to consider how you celebrate, and what your emphasis is during this important holiday. Is it more about the fireworks and cookouts, or more about honoring and celebrating America?
In this celebration, be sure to pass along to your kids how blessed they truly are. Celebrate those men, who in one signature became traitors. Celebrate the farmers and shopkeepers who were ready at a minute’s notice to defend our new land. Celebrate the individuals and families who gave all to see the birth of this country and freedom. Celebrate the men who stayed and froze during a very long winter, instead of simply leaving and returning home.
Honor the generations that followed. Those who fought a devastating war for the freedom and equality of all. Honor the men and women who served and fought (and continue to do so), for the oppressed and to secure freedom for a new generation. Honor those who fought oppression, and worked to see all treated equally. Honor and celebrate the freedom we have been given, that is a rare and wonderful gem in our world.
Give thanks for the freedom to speak, debate, and assemble. Give thanks for the freedom to worship as you chose. Give thanks for the freedoms and protections against unlawful search and imprisonment, and the right to be presumed innocent. Give thanks for the ability to pursue happiness and your dreams.
We must help our children see this great blessing for what it is, and cherish it. This is one of the most important lessons we can give our children. When we help them see the sacrifice that went into this country and its significance, we help them see and understand this wonderful celebration. We give them a basis and foundation to help them know its meaning and importance.
This is what made the celebration at the end of Return of the Jedi so significant and wonderful – they all understood its importance, and for them, it held a very deep meaning. As we celebrate the 4th, take time to remember its true meaning and importance, and celebrate it with your children. We are blessed, so celebrate as only an Ewok can. Happy Independence Day!