(StatePoint) In recent years, many cities and towns across the nation have made the tough choice to scale back or cancel longstanding Fourth of July traditions, due to stretched budgets. However, when faced with challenges impacting an entire community, Americans have shown time and again a passion for supporting their towns — and at the same time, honoring the country.
With July 4th fast approaching, Americans again have the opportunity to show their community spirit. Whether it’s bringing back patriotic parades, volunteering at schools and places of worship, or honoring the brave men and women who protect us, there are many easy ways to help your town.
Here are some ideas on how you can honor America in your community this July 4th:
• Box it. A timeless way to show patriotism is to support our troops. Why not organize a care package drive this Fourth of July and send your local service men and women the things they miss from home. Or teach your children about the important contributions of America’s veterans, and ways to thank them, by using helpful resources found at www.va.gov/kids.
• Encourage hometown spirit. Many communities have cut back their July 4th celebrations as a result of the recession. But businesses with local roots like Liberty Mutual Insurance are working with cities and towns to change this. For example, Liberty Mutual is hosting an online contest encouraging citizens across America to rally and earn one of ten $10,000 grants to help continue their towns’ official Fourth of July celebrations. Visit www.BringBackThe4th.com to learn which towns won and how they plan to celebrate the big day with traditions such as parades, fireworks shows and ceremonies honoring veterans.
• Participate in democracy. Local government officials need to hear from residents of their cities and towns in order to address regional issues effectively. You can do your part by joining or starting a community group, such as a neighborhood watch, or by attending a town hall meeting. Or write an op-ed for your local newspaper offering ideas to make a positive impact on your community.
• Visit a national landmark. The country is filled with local landmarks, from war memorials to state parks. Visiting one this summer is a great way to teach your family about American history and ecology in a fun, memorable way.
• Broaden your horizons. America’s strength comes from diversity. You can honor that tradition by learning about people with whom you share the country. From museums that celebrate Native American culture to multicultural dining, almost every town has something for you to experience. It may even be as simple as introducing yourself to your long-time neighbor whose name you never learned.
Once you’ve decided how to honor America this Fourth of July, spread the word. Social media tools like Facebook and Twitter can help you recruit other residents to your cause, building a sense of community. Remember, what you do matters — especially in your hometown.
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