By Jerry Yeatts, F390000
Independence Day, also known as the Fourth of July in the United States, holds different meaning for different people. For some, this American holiday represents a midway point for summer vacations. For others, it is a day off work to plan picnics, family reunions, baseball games, parades, and fireworks displays. Yet, for others, it is a symbol of the true meaning of living in a free society.
On the first day of July, Canada celebrates in a similar fashion for Canada Day, frequently referred to as Canada’s birthday. Celebrations are festive and joyous. In addition, many people in Newfoundland and Labrador take time, usually early in the day, to remember the contributions made by the province’s veterans, particularly those who served and those who died during World War I.
We all have stories that in some way define our lives. I would like to introduce you to one brief chapter in the story of Steven Krauss, an FMCA member from West Palm Beach, Florida. He visited Washington, D.C., with other FMCA members attending the Cherry Blossom Rally this past April. The tour was the first to be offered through FMCA’s Tour Connection, powered by Fantasy RV Tours.
“When my parents escaped from Communist Hungary more than 60 years ago, who would have ever imagined that one day I would stand in front of those great monuments and memorials that symbolize and define American history, and be reminded of my family’s escape from Europe? I am so proud to be an American and be here in my country’s capital seeing all of these wonderful places that are now mine as a U.S. citizen. My entire family — me, my mom and dad, and two sisters — waited three years in displaced persons camps in Austria before we finally received visas and were able to come to the United States. As I stood in front of the World War II Memorial, I mentally thanked my parents, survivors of the Holocaust, for getting us out of Europe.
“I couldn’t help thinking about those brave men and women who made the ultimate sacrifice, as I humbly gazed at the World War II Memorial. Thank you for your service . . . to all who protect my great country.”
I first talked with Steven’s wife, Marcy Berliner, about including Steven’s quote in this month’s Executive Director’s Commentary, and I had a lump in my throat as she discussed what a moving experience this was for him. She stayed behind in their motorhome on one of the tour days and received a phone call from him as he visited these tremendous memorials. She recounted how she could sense the excitement and pride in his voice.
I tried to imagine the emotions he must have experienced as he walked through the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, D.C. I realized that the freedom we many times take for granted is something much more precious than anyone can describe. Just as Steven was humbled as he gazed at the World War II Memorial, I was equally humbled when speaking with a family who genuinely values something as intangible as freedom.
Whether you celebrate Independence Day or Canada Day, thoughts naturally turn to the freedoms we all enjoy: the freedom to travel this great continent; the right to express our opinions; the opportunity to dream; the ability to hope. For my wife and me, traveling in our motorhome offers a bit of this freedom. As we have prepared to travel to a local lake for a quick weekend getaway, friends have asked us what we actually do when we get to the campground. We just smile and answer, “Whatever we want to do.” Unless you have had the experience of camping, whether in a motorhome or in a tent, it is difficult to appreciate the beauty of a sunrise; the quietness as the evening sun seems to melt into the surface of a lake; the cathedral-like feeling as you walk through the woods; the symphony of the crickets and the crackling of the fire as evening approaches. People around you just seem a little friendlier. Maybe it’s because they also realize the freedom that they are experiencing.
Winston Churchill once said, “All the great things are simple, and many can be expressed in a single word: freedom, justice, honor, duty, mercy, hope.”
What are your “freedom” stories? Do any of them tie in with your joy of motorhoming? We’d love to hear from you and, with your permission, may publish your stories in future columns or on our Web site. Please e-mail us your freedom story to firstname.lastname@example.org.