As we celebrate the 4th of July, our country’s Independence Day, I wanted to share a little bit about my personal story and express my gratitude for the risk our founding fathers took to start our great nation and for the countless individuals, including my parents, who have sacrificed to afford us the opportunities and freedoms we have today. I also want to leave you with some thoughts to ponder about your life, the mark you want to leave in the world, and the risks you're willing to take to do it.
I was born in Manila, Philippines and came to the United States when I was 5. My parents knew there were limited educational opportunities for me and my little sister in the Philippines so they moved our family to America to have a better life. When I turned 18 I became a US Citizen. I am proud to be an American. I love that song that goes, “And I’m proud to be an American, where at least I know I’m free. And I won’t forget the men who died, who gave that right to me and I gladly stand up next to you and defend her still today. Cause there ain’t no doubt I love this land. God bless the USA.”
My husband has a similar story. He was born and raised in Ukraine. He came to the US for college also in pursuit of greater opportunities and he became an American Citizen 2 years ago. It was evident at his citizenship ceremony that it was one of the happiest days of his life. He was grinning from ear to ear with a smile that lit up the room. We are living the dream. We both love our work and love serving our community. I feel privileged to get to coach such driven and highly motivated individuals who are pillars of their community.
Living right outside of Washington DC, we love and appreciate all the history around us. We’ve been to George Washington’s home at Mount Vernon over a dozen times. We’ve also visited Montpelier, James Madison’s home and Monticello, Thomas Jefferson’s home and love the history we’ve gleaned from all the tours. We’ve watched all the biographies of all the US presidents. Learning what our founding fathers went through to start this great nation is astounding and inspiring. Although George Washington lost more battles than he won he managed to keep his army together under the most trying circumstances and get this country started.
This year, we got another perspective of history through watching the musical Hamilton. Who would have thought that an orphan from the Caribbean would be the one to unite the states through having the federal government take on the state's debts! Alexander Hamilton laid the foundation for America’s economic system. He was Washington’s right hand man, writing most of Washington’s correspondence to congress while in battle. It’s quite the inspirational story of how one man made such a profound impact on American history. Another memorable experience from this year is standing on the USS Missouri in Pearl Harbor, which was the last battleship commissioned by the US. On this battleship, Japan surrendered to end World War II.
All this to say that I am grateful for the risk our founding fathers took to start this great nation as well as those who have risked and continue to risk their lives to defend our freedom today. Margaret Mead said, “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it's the only thing that ever has.” With that what do you want your contribution to be? What’s the legacy you want to leave? And what are you willing to risk?
Consider completing the following 3 statements:
- I left the world a better place because….
- I changed someone’s life by….
- When I’m gone, people will remember that I….
- I left the world a better place because I loved, inspired, encouraged, and affirmed others. I had a positive impact on every single person I interacted with. I recognized the good in everyone and helped them to unleash their potential.
- I changed someone’s life by helping them understand their value and their contribution to the world. I helped them maximize their strengths in service to others.
- When I’m gone, people will remember that I cared. That I gave it my all. I took risks and acted boldly. That I inspired and left everyone I came into contact with in a better place. That I knew my days were numbered and that I lived each day to the full. As Chuck O'Keefe, financial advisor from Elizabeth City, NC told me yesterday, "look around appreciate what you have. Nothing will be the same in a year."
Even in tumultuous times as these, I am grateful.
With a full heart, I wish you and your family a mindful and meaningful Independence Day!