Watching the sunset from the deck in my backyard, I pat my stomach after a meal and then I exhale the kind of breath that only comes after eating a big dinner.
As I write to you, I sit in my room and on the wall behind me is a certificate signed by the President of The United States of America.
It says, “The United States of America honors the memory of Ronald M Kimmel.
This certificate is awarded by a grateful nation in recognition of devoted and selfless consecration to the service of our country in the Armed Forces of the United States.”
As I write to you, I can hear the discharge of fireworks bursting in the sky. I see this discharge as a sign of freedom; a freedom, which has been afforded to us by the men and women that served this country in good times and bad.
We took my daughter to the playground the other day. We took her behind one of the elementary schools I used to play at when I was her age. Except, when I was her age, the playground was much bigger. When I was her age, children played outside.
Yesterday, the sun was out and the sky was beautiful. There were no clouds and the winds were kind and warm.
But the playground behind Barnum Woods Elementary was empty. The swings were vacant. The slides were lonely and the monkey bars were silently waiting for young hands to grip on its bars and climb across.
When I was her age, I said the Pledge of Allegiance each morning before class began and there was no problem in saying, “One nation under God.” I knew to stand still during the sound of our National Anthem; however, I am afraid this lesson is lost on our new generation. America, I have not forgotten you. I have not forgotten the smell of your green grass or the feeling of running through your fields.
As a family, we swung on the swings. I slid down the slide and climbed across some of the monkey bars. I created an obstacle course for my daughter and she ran through it with a smile on her face. She smiled the kind of smile that comes with being 10 years-old and feeling free.
After we moved from one swing set to another, we passed the playground for the younger kids. We created another obstacle course; of course, this one was easier because the slides and stairs were smaller. My wife watched as she sat on one of the swings. She smiled in her sundress. Her dark sunglasses reflected the bright yellow sun that beamed down and I was fortunate enough to feel its warmth on my skin.
I suppose it did not matter if the park was mostly empty. At least we were there. At least we were able to enjoy the playground and the outdoors.
After our time was up, we headed back. We piled into the car and I put the air conditioner on, full blast. I made a right turn, leaving the parking lot, passing the front of the school. Above the front double doors it says, “Barnum Woods Elementary School. Teaching the Golden Rule. At Home and At School.
The Golden Rule is taken from The Son of Man’s Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 7:12)
“So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets.” “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” That’s the Golden Rule.
America, I have not forgotten you. I have not forgotten the lessons I learned. I have not forgotten those who have served you….and apparently, neither have the faculty at Barnum Woods Elementary School.
This weekend was a good weekend. I ate some. I slept and laughed some. I hugged my child some and sat with my wife some. However, the sum of these things are gifts. These gifts were given to me by the men and women who were brave enough to sacrifice their lives for the benefit of this country.
I will never forget that.
And so long as I raise my child right, neither will she.