The Enid News and Eagle, Enid, OK

July 2, 2013

Meaning of Independence Day

By Peggy Goodrich, columnist
Enid News and Eagle

— What does Independence Day mean to you? Think about it.

Tomorrow we will celebrate our day of independence. It is a day of fireworks, contests, picnicking and other festivities across the United States. It is the birthday of our great country.

As far back as grade school, we learned that this holiday was more than just fireworks and festivals. We learned that it was the day our patriot fathers declared independence from England during the Revolutionary War. Fifty-six men signed the Declaration of Independence, some of whom were captured by the British and tortured as traitors. These signers pledged their lives, their fortunes, and their sacred honor to make this country free.

They wrote a decree stating that they no longer would need to be governed by the kings of England that had been very unjust to the colonists in the years before. On July 4, 1776, (or a few days before or after) America was born.

We celebrate that we are now a free nation, no longer under the rule of another country. We have many goals and ideas that are represented in our celebration of July Fourth. We celebrate the fact that we, as a nation, want all people to be free.

Former President Dwight D. Eisenhower said, “Freedom has its life in the hearts, the actions, and spirit of men, so it must daily be earned and refreshed, or like a flower cut from its life-giving roots, it will wither and die.” We must celebrate and appreciate our freedoms every single day and never take them for granted. We must acknowledge that, without the courage and bravery of all those who came before us, we would not have the freedoms that we hold so very dear to our hearts.

We enjoy freedom of religion without persecution and with the ability to think and do for ourselves. It took great courage for our forefathers to step forward and make this happen.

It took a great deal of forethought and planning to write the Declaration of Independence and make it clear and fair for everyone — with justice and liberty for all people.

Aren’t we thankful that we live in a country where we can disagree with our government officials and not be shot for peaceful disagreement? We have the privilege of voting to change any policy with which we disagree. We have majority rule. This is the most fair and diplomatic way to change policy and laws. This great country is governed by its own people: of the people, by the people and for the people. What a country!

When I was a kid, I knew that July Fourth was a day of great celebration. We always had a few ripe watermelons by July Fourth, and cantaloupes too (we called them mush melons). We made homemade ice cream and had a delightful picnic of fried chicken, potato salad, sliced tomatoes, bread and butter sandwiches, even if we ate inside. When evening chores were over, we went into town. There was a carnival set up on the courthouse lawn. I just watched. I was never crazy about the rides, but I liked seeing the people and the excitement of sounds and lights and all.

At dark-thirty, we spread out blankets on the courthouse lawn and waited for the fireworks to start. They were nothing like the extravagant fireworks now, but for us, it was a wonderful treat and we ooohed and aaahed as they popped and exploded in the air. When they were all over, with a huge ground display of the American flag, it was time to roll up our blankets and head for home. We had to wait an entire year for that much excitement again.

If we, as individuals, don’t take advantage of our many freedoms, then our forefathers fought in vain. Are we thinking about what our personal freedoms mean to us? Do we exercise our freedom of religion, or do we think of it as freedom from religion? Do we participate in our government and do we give our opinions and feedback and votes to our elected officials? Or do we just complain about what they do?

We live in the greatest country in the world. We have limitless opportunities and freedoms and privileges. So fly your flag. Wear red, white and blue. Sing patriotic songs. Watch fireworks. Have a picnic or cookout. Bask in all the glories this country has to offer. Celebrate with gusto. Top it off watching the televised national celebration on the mall in Washington, D.C.

This year, I will again make this sheet cake. It has become an Independence Day tradition. It actually melts in your mouth.

Peanut Butter Sheet Cake

2 cups flour

1 teaspoon soda

2 cups sugar

1⁄2 teaspoon salt

1⁄2 cup oil

11⁄2 sticks margarine

1⁄2 cup peanut butter (smooth or chunky)

1 cup water

2 eggs, beaten

1⁄2 cup buttermilk

Mix flour, sugar, soda and salt in two quart mixing bowl. Set aside. In a saucepan, bring oil, margarine, peanut butter and water to a boil. Pour over dry ingredients and mix. Add beaten eggs, vanilla and buttermilk, blending well. Pour batter into 11-by-15-inch sheet cake pan. Bake 15-18 minutes in 350- degree oven.

Icing for Peanut Butter Sheet Cake

1⁄2 cup margarine

1⁄3 cup peanut butter

3⁄4 cup chopped roasted peanuts

1 pound powdered sugar

1⁄3 cup milk

11 teaspoons vanilla

Combine peanut butter, milk, margarine and vanilla in saucepan and heat until peanut butter and margarine are melted. Add nuts and powdered sugar and beat well. Spread on warm cake.

Happy birthday, America, and many, many more. God bless you.

Send your comments to: Peggy Goodrich, Food For Thought, P.O. Box 1192, Enid, OK 73702.