07/06/2010 06:24 pm ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

Independence Day 2010, the Blessing of Opportunity

For food, for raiment,
For life, for opportunity,
For friendship and fellowship,
We thank Thee, O Lord.
(The Philmont Grace)


My four summers on the Philmont Staff bound me to those words forever. The fact that my daughters picked it up at a Staff reunion and now say it at most evening meals gives me further opportunity to reflect on the grace. The Philmont Scout Ranch, I should add for my non-Scouting readers, is the premier High Adventure camp of the Boy Scout of America, each summer attracting thousands of young men and women for backpacking and unforgettable experiences.


The campers will say these words before their meals, many without giving them more thought than other public blessings. But there, in the middle, two phrases after "for raiment" (which I must admit, made many a Scout stop and ask its meaning--clothing), is a reminder of the definitive blessing of this country and its people: opportunity.


I hope you and your family have a wonderful Independence Day--calling it just "the Fourth" misses the point --but sometime during the day (or every day of the year), pause to consider the opportunities, the blessings, you have simply by virtue of living in the United States of America.


My series on our legal holidays began, and continues, as a request that we not forget why we celebrate. While this holiday is easy on the surface, even young children understand a birthday party, the gifts we receive at that party are also easy to overlook. Happy Birthday to us, Americans. We've received that greatest gift of all--opportunity.


On this day in 1776 our Declaration of Independence was adopted. It's worth reading or hearing (the annual reading on National Public Radio is one of my favorite traditions) the Declaration from time-to-time if only to remind ourselves of the mutual pledge of our Lives, our Fortunes and our sacred Honor, with a reliance on the protection of divine Providence, that was made to give birth to our country. Should any less be expected to sustain it?