Somewhere, the sun is setting and a circle of old Arab men are huddled behind a minaret, lighting their first cigarettes -- and hoping their daughters won't see. Somewhere, a cabbie is arguing with a fare. He remembers the holy month, pulls away, and thanks God for the miracle of air conditioning.
It was an honor to present at last week's Mission Transition summit in Washington, D.C., alongside President George W. Bush and former First Lady Laura Bush. I joined decision-makers from every sector and industry to discuss the transition process for post-9/11 veterans and military families. And I have to say, I am encouraged by what I saw.
We will change the world only when we recognize that all that we do as individuals, all our technology, all our interconnectedness are meaningless unless we apply them to the whole.
Some moments in life provide such extraordinary images of courage and hope that they demand to be celebrated. The 4th of July provides the perfect backdrop to acknowledge the sacrifices of so many that gave so much to provide the freedoms that we enjoy in this country.
Please understand that, as consumers and Americans, you have more options and choices than you know. Celebrate your independence by not being led by current marketing and legislative processes that are not in your best interest or the interest of your family's health and well-being.
As we celebrate July 4th and our nation's independence, it's appropriate to also connect that celebration to the utter mayhem of this past week's NBA free agency. Individual rights, and the pursuit of happiness and freedom are defining hallmarks of our country.
We need a new declaration of independence. FDR took a stab at this, with his "Four Freedoms." That's a good start. But now, eight decades later, we need to declare our independence from other forms of oppression.
But seriously, if there's a time to use the word Americana, it's got to be July 4th, right? So here are some genre-bending releases that fit the name.
Eleven-year-old city boys camping, ride bicycles freely as we once did, up and down the cul-de-sacs, no helmets, no curfews, no limits. Coming and going as they please, a first taste of freedom and independence. Mine comes in only to water and feed, dropping his bike at the base of the cabin.
And then it happened. On the Fourth of July, while fireworks lit up the sky, popping and crackling in the air, my dad's internal organs opened up with explosives of their own. Our family cheers rivaled those of the partygoers on the street.
Early in the long narrative of our deeply modest contributions to effect marriage equality, my partner - our non-legal, homemade wedding of 1999 was still two years away - and I participated in a march in Washington D.C. with hundreds of LGBT comrades, families and friends.
In America, we have something called the Medal of Honor. It is a military award that is only given to the people that went above and beyond reasonable expectations of bravery to achieve something truly heroic. Here is a list of 10 of our greatest American heroes. On this 4th of July, take one of these stories and tell it to your buddies over the grill, or while waiting for the fireworks.
While we are having fun laughing and making memories, men and women across the world will be protecting us. They will be standing watch, making rounds, sitting at a desk waiting for a phone to ring. They will be armed, they will be alert and they will be silently waiting for someone to make a wrong move.
As we recite the Pledge of Allegiance and remind religious and spiritual minority communities that this is "one Nation under [a Christian] God," remember that liberty and justice is reserved only for those who resemble the Founding Fathers.
True patriotism isn't simply about waving the American flag. And it's not mostly about securing our borders from outsiders. It's about coming together for the common good.