Today’s post is the monthly reflection from the July 2004 issue of  The Front Porch Newsletter.  If you would like to automatically receive The Front Porch e-newsletter on the last Thursday of each month just click here to sign-up for your complimentary subscription.

Waving FlagIt was an unusual date for any convention, but as we arrived in Philadelphia to attend the 1998 National Speaker Association’s Annual Convention, it was in the perfect place. It was the Fourth of July weekend. My 10-year-old son, Ryan, had joined me for the convention to attend the NSA Youth Leadership Conference. While waiting for the late afternoon kick-off of the convention, we spent the morning doing what most any tourist would do in Philadelphia, especially on the Fourth of July. We went to see the Liberty Bell and Independence Hall.

It was fun to see the Bell, but standing inside Independence Hall, on Independence Day was what was most memorable. It was inspiring to stand inside the very room where the discussions held would plant the seed for the birth of a new nation. I thought about the fear, uncertainty and courage those men must have held within them. As I listened to the tour guide reflect on the discussions, controversies, risk and will of those pioneers, I felt a new-found sense of gratitude.
And now, six years later, I look back on the irony of that visit. As the air of the late 1990’s dot-com magic was looming outside those historic halls, maybe there was a lesson to be learned — again! Beyond those walls was a booming economy built on short-term gains with a blind eye to their long-term impact. Yet, inside that room was the history of men with long-term vision, with a blind eye to their short-term sacrifice.

Where there is purpose, passion and vision — the short-term sacrifice becomes manageable. But there is still a price to be paid. These men paid a price. This month, as we once again celebrate the birth of our nation, we owe a great debt to the men in that room — and the many who would follow their solid example. If you watched the dedication of the WWII Memorial in Washington this past Memorial Day Weekend, you would have seen some more of the Independence Hall types. The “greatest generation” is older and frail. Their time, like those of 1776, will soon have come and gone. But they have left their mark in the process.
The theme for that 1998 National Speaker Association’s Convention was most appropriate — Leave a Legacy. Legacies aren’t built on smoke and mirror. They are weaved with the fabric of courage, passion — and sacrifice.

The men of Independence Hall certainly left a legacy. They left us reason to celebrate — and lessons to learn. May your Fourth-of-July be filled with spacious skies of fireworks and hearts of gratitude!