10 Ways To Boost Your Patriotic Spirit This Independence Day
With Independence Day right around the corner, the patriotic spirit will no doubt be picking up, especially when it comes to grocery stores hawking hotdogs, hamburgers, apple pie and ice cold drinks. But there’s much more to the 4th of July than an outdoor meal with some fireworks in the background, perhaps most importantly, the opportunity to remember the Godly principles on which the country was founded and pay tribute to those who have given their lives to preserve freedom.
In addition to taking time to reflect on the country’s forefathers and the brave military who continue to serve and protect, the holiday reminds all of us what it means to be an American. While the country’s detractors will try to say otherwise, the good ole’ U.S.A. is quick to lend a helping hand, has plenty of heart, and with just the right balance of grit and grace, affords just about anyone who stays determined a chance to achieve the American dream.
To help inspire those sentiments, gmc's compiled a list of ways to boost your patriotic spirit, including movies, CDs, and family-friendly activities. In addition to the loads of fun to be had, don’t forget to consider some clever ways to give back to the courageous men and women who keep America “the land of the free” and “the home of the brave.”
1. “A Capitol Fourth”
As far as patriotic landmarks go, none is more ideal than the nation’s capital, which opens its gates for the annual “A Capitol Fourth” variety show. The National Mall hosts a star-studded affair led by country favorite Josh Turner, composer John Williams, current and past Olympic athletes, plus additional performances from Broadway stars Matthew Broderick and Kelli O’Hara, R&B band Kool & The Gang and "The Voice" singer/songwriter Javier Colon. For those who can’t make the pilgrimage to Washington D.C., there’s always the chance to catch the festivities live on PBS, NPR and even overseas on the American Forces Network.
2. “Born on the Fourth of July”
For those who prefer the indoors (or in the event of a rainy day), there’s always Oliver Stone’s classic drama “Born on the Fourth of July.” Tom Cruise portrays real-life Vietnam War veteran Ron Kovic, who is paralyzed from battle and must readjust to life as a result. It’s certainly a tear-jerker that doesn’t necessarily get tied up with a neat bow, but it showcases the bravery of this particular solider and the triumph of the human spirit in a mighty way.
3. Macy’s Fourth of July Fireworks
Though fireworks shows are destined to light up even the most obscure corner of the night sky, the ultimate celebration takes place along the Hudson River in New York. Show sponsor Macy’s promises over 40,000 shells igniting at more than 1,500 times a minute for nearly a half-hour, all united under the theme “Ignite the Night.” The synchronized soundtrack features Lee Greenwood’s “God Bless the U.S.A.,” Ray Charles’ rendition of “America the Beautiful” and Whitney Houston’s “One Moment in Time,” plus performances from Katy Perry and Kenny Chesney. Fans who can’t be there in person need not fear, as NBC beams the action all across America.
4. Dolly Parton’s For God and Country
Another strong soundtrack of the season that’s sure to add some sugar and spice to any backyard barbeque comes from country music legend Dolly Parton. Her 18-track collection For God and Country is loaded with red, white and blue classics like “The Star Spangled Banner,” “When Johnny Comes Marching Home,” “My Country 'Tis of Thee” and “There Will Be Peace in the Valley,” alongside a few originals delivered in her signature, homespun style.
5. 9/11 Memorial
There’s sure to be an influx of tourists to the 9/11 memorial on the former site of the Twin Towers in New York City, but there are also plenty of other ways to honor victims of the terrorist attacks and their families. Visit www.911memorial.org to get a virtual tour of the grounds, scan the museum’s collections and find out how to be a charter member of the organization. You'll find multiple ways to contribute, from cash to materials, that could be incorporated into a future exhibit.
6. Martha Stewart’s Patriotic Crafts
On a lighter note, Independence Day is also a chance to get festive around the house, and chances are the kids will go gaga over some of Martha Stewart’s super fab decorating ideas. From arranging a collage of glow sticks to look like the American flag, to ideas to adorn your bike or even your pet, the world-famous designer has all the bases covered and several other surprises at www.marthastewart.com (after searching “Fourth of July”).
7. BeBe Winans’ America America
Brand-new for this season on the R&B side of the dial is BeBe Winans’ first ever patriotic album. Fans and newcomers alike won’t want to miss his soulful stamp on covers like “America the Beautiful,” “You’re a Grand Old Flag” and “The Battle Hymn of the Republic,” while his new “America America” is also sure to stir the soul.
8. Military Family and Veterans Service Organizations of America
Connecting with just the right patriotic charity or outreach organization can sometimes be tricky considering the vast choices out there in cyberspace, but thankfully www.mvpsoa.org makes it easy to navigate. Though there’s always the option of writing a personal check to benefit soldiers and their families with medical or financial needs, consider hosting a holiday-themed fundraiser amongst family, friends and church folks for a wider reach. Everyone’s sure to crave a cookout, chili contest or bake sale, plus there’s always a rummage sale, sports tournament or musical performance to drum up some extra dough.
9. “Independence Day”
The title alone of this major motion picture is a dead ringer for the list, but the plot is also sure to keep viewers on the edge of their seats. Catch Will Smith, Jeff Goldblum and Bill Pullman in all their adventure-fueled sci-fi glory as they try to save earth from an alien invasion that attempts to infiltrate Washington D.C., New York City, Los Angeles and other prominent cities in their path.
10. The Beach Boys’ Spirit of America
Perhaps no band summarizes the American ideal more than The Beach Boys, who just so happen to be celebrating their 50th year together this summer with a reunion tour. Surviving members Brian Wilson, Mike Love, Al Jardine, Bruce Johnston and David Marks' compilation album, Spirit of America, finds the fellas singing about flags, freedom, cars and girls, subjects which are also sure to pop up on stage when the group headlines America’s Freedom Festival in Utah on July 4th.
Copyright 2012, watchgmctv.com. For permission to repost or reprint, click here.
About the Writer
Andy Argyrakis is a Chicago-based entertainment writer/photographer who appears in the Chicago Tribune, IllinoisEntertainer, Daily Journal, Concert Livewire, Hear/Say Magazine and Image Chicago (to name few). His record label writing credits include Warner Brothers, Atlantic, Curb, EMI and Universal, with additional photo credits for Fuse TV, Live Nation, Nikon, Pollstar, Celebrity Access, Paste Magazine, MTV.com and Vibe.com. He’s also the author/narrator of "Access Matthews" (an audio CD tracing the career of Dave Matthews Band) and spends considerable time on tour, including outings with Arlo Guthrie, The Guess Who, Madina Lake (on Linkin Park’s Projekt Revolution) and Gospel Music Channel’s very own "Gospel Dream" (where he served as season one judge).
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