On the Fourth of July, millions of Americans will celebrate our country’s birthday by cooking out, watching community parades and shooting off fireworks. This birthday party for our country is missing one thing: presents. The United States has given all of us gifts of freedom and opportunity. What can we give back to our country?
- Register and vote. If you have never registered to vote, what are you waiting for? It’s never been easier. Check out the requirements for your state and find everythng you need at Register to Vote. In most states it’s as easy as renewing your license plate or driver’s license. Once you’ve registered, inform yourself about the issues and candidates for your next local, state, or federal election. Your voice and vote does count.
- Speak up. Do you know who your representative is to Congress? Who represents your community in the state legislature or county council? Find out and get to know them. Let them know your opinion on the issues facing our country. Write a letter, send an email, or call their office. Even when you disagree, keep the conversation going.
- Explore our national lands. Our national parks and forests and wildlife refuges are a fabulous gift for all of us. When is the last time you have visited some of our national lands? Go take a hike or drive through to admire the natural beauty. While you are there, leave the place a little better than you found it. Pick up some trash left by other visitors. Find out what you can do to help. Take part in a clean-up day or sign up to volunteer in other ways.
- Thank a vet. The current and past members of our armed forces (and their families) sacrifice every day to protect our country. When you see a veteran, say thank you. Take it a step further and find a way to give back to our veterans. The Veterans Service Officers in each county depends on volunteers to drive vets to doctor’s appointments. Other organizations support vets in finding jobs or dealing with PTSD.
- Volunteer in your community. Whatever your passion, your community has a need that you can help fill. Whether it is protecting the environment or working with children or feeding the hungry, look for ways to give back. Check out your local United Way or volunteer foundation for opportunities. If you don’t see something that works for you, start your own. It can be a one day project or a weekly commitment. I know I find that I get much more than I give.
Enjoy the fireworks, parades, and cookouts this Fourth of July. Just don’t forget to bring your present for our country.