Revelations column: God bless the USA
When I was a girl, one of my favorite Fourth of July activities was visiting Stone Mountain, spreading a large blanket over the grassy hillside and watching the laser show with my family.
Stone Mountain is a well-known tourist spot for Atlantans, who flock by the thousands each year to view the large, dome-shaped mountain where Confederate leaders Stonewall Jackson, Robert E. Lee and Jefferson Davis are carved into the side of the rock.
I still remember how moved I was during the animated laser show, when the lights came alive on the mountain and depicted the soldiers on horseback running out of the wall and into the crowd.
All around me, children cooed as fireworks exploded and Lee Greenwood's "God Bless the USA" echoed o'er the mountainside.
Those are the first memories I have of patriotism.
It's the first time I remember feeling American and free.
There was something about the reverent tone of the audience.
I haven't attended the laser show in many years, but I'm sure it would move me the same as an adult as it did when I was 7 years old.
What's great about the Fourth is that it's a holiday for everyone. We have Veterans Day and Memorial Day, but those days rightly belong to honoring our military heroes and the sacrifices they've made for American freedom.
But the Fourth allows people of all races, creeds and cultural background to join together and celebrate our independence.
It's a day that encourages me to reflect on all the ways God has richly blessed me and prospered me in this land I call home.
It's a day that reminds me that we're all equals. We're all Americans. We're all one nation under God.
It's a land that no one is fleeing by the masses, and a country that citizens of other nations risk life and limb to break into.
So, I encourage you all to take a moment to reflect on all the ways God has blessed you.
And I pray you always remain proud to be an American.
Jennifer Preyss is a reporter for the Victoria Advocate. You can reach her at 361-580-6535 or firstname.lastname@example.org or @jenniferpreyss on Twitter.