Color me red, white & blue — and humbled

US motto: E pluribus unum ~ Out of many, one

Kansas motto: Ad astra per aspera ~ To the stars through difficulties

I’ve been thinking a lot about patriotism — how can one not on July 4th? It’s a day of celebration. But often the reason and meaning behind the day gets lost. I’m guilty of allowing it to happen to me — getting caught up in the festivities and fireworks. There have been two times that I actually felt the true meaning of the day hit me…

One was on July 4, 2003. I was pregnant with my daughter and we were sitting in our friend’s driveway in Blue Springs shooting off fireworks (it’s legal there). As I watched the city’s display, that’s when it hit me — my brother was deployed and in Iraq, Baghdad at that time. He was literally fighting for us…for me…as I sat enjoying the familiar sights, sounds and tastes of the day. I was brought to tears as I watched — my heart filled with pride to be an American and to know that my brother was out there sacrificing his life for our way of life. A life we too often take for granted. Three days later my mother would receive a call letting her know that her son had been involved in an accident with an IED. He and the others traveling in the vehicle survived the incident, with varying degree of injuries – all were awarded Purple Hearts.

The second was July 4, 2016. Yes, just today. As I was walking down the streets of Old Town Lenexa in the Community Days Parade, I was struck by the crowds…how excited they were…especially the kids — who were even excited to get one of my campaign stickers! It was such a fun and festive environment — a true sense of community. To be a candidate, participating in a democracy that’s only 240 years old – and a woman no less who has only been allowed the right to vote for 96 of those 240 years. There are days that I can’t even wrap my mind around all this. Running for office has definitely been one of my Top 5 life experiences.

parade crowd