The Fourth of July means baseball, picnics in the park, swimming, and wonderful times with family and friends. Watermelons, homemade ice cream, grilled hamburgers and hot dogs, or real southern barbeque on the smoker. It's always meant a lot to me, for these reasons and many, many more.
The Fourth of July also means freedom. Freedom to go wherever we want to go to celebrate or the freedom to simply stay at home if that's what we choose to do. It also means we have the freedom to worship as we wish, to speak as we wish to speak, or own guns. Our nation was set up with some really basic ideas and principles, but through time, interpretation of these principles seems to have changed.
When the United States of America was first formed, the only wars we fought, were wars to first win our independence from tyranny, then defend that independence. No companies made a profit from our involvement in war, until the 20th Century. Greed, and power demonstrated by certain men through the years has weakened some of those same, basic principles. Remember the once popular saying, "Give me your tired and your poor..." People from all over the world were once welcome at our borders, to escape poverty, and tyranny as well as certain death. Our nation was formed by the blood of many different nationalities, making our country unique from many perspectives. Some of that same blood was spilled on foreign soil, to preserve freedom for generations of people around the world. My uncle, David Y. Smith died a hero in 1944, earning a Purple Heart and the Silver Star for bravery, when he fell on a hand grenade someone had dropped from their belt; saving hundreds of lives in his company. David died in France and is buried there. My father and another brother also served in World War II and they served proudly.
I have always been a patriot. I stand with my hand or cap over my heart, whenever I hear the National Anthem played. I stand and repeat the "Pledge of Allegiance" every time it is offered and when I see someone sitting or standing with their cap on their head, I am first angered by their actions. But I soon realize, they have the right to do whatever they want to do, because they are citizens of our great country.
They say America is now more politically divisive than at any time in our history. Democrats don't want to work with Republicans, Republicans don't want to work with Democrats, and Tea Party folks don't seem to want to work with anybody. It's amazing we have been able to get anything done at all the past few years. I am a liberal Democrat and very proud of it. I have many Republican friends whom I love and respect very much. But my party has some pretty good ideas, if only they would sit down and help us work things out. The same is true for Republican ideas. There used to be progress made by rolling up your sleeves, and working through disagreements; not now. There is too much partisanship on all sides.
Some people say, the United States of America is no longer the "Greatest Country On The Face of The Earth." I say they're wrong. As we celebrate our independence on July 4th, wear your red, white and blue proudly. Wave your flags and sing patriotic songs at the top of you lungs. You have the freedom to do so. God Bless America!
Randy Smith has been covering sports in Tennessee for the last 42 years. After leaving WRCB-TV in 2009, he has continued his broadcasting career as a free-lance play-by-play announcer, author and is also a media concepts teacher at Red Bank High School in Chattanooga. He is currently teaching an "Intro To Sportscasting" class at Red Bank, the only class of its type in Tennessee. Randy Smith's career has included a 17-year stint as scoreboard host and pre-game talk show host on the widely regarded "Vol Network". He has also done play by play of more than 500 college football, basketball, baseball and softball games on ESPN, ESPN2, Fox Sports, CSS and Tennessee Pay Per View telecasts. He was selected as "Tennessee's Best Sports Talk Show Host" in 1998 by the Associated Press. He has won other major awards including, "Best Sports Story" in Tennessee and his "Friday Night Football" shows on WRCB-TV twice won "Best Sports Talk Show In Tennessee" awards. He has also been the host of "Inside Lee University Basketball" on CSS for the past 10 years. Randy and his wife, Shelia, reside in Hixson. They have two married children (Christi and Chris Perry Davey and Alison Smith). They also have two grandchildren (Coleman and Boone).