By Jackie Davis
Niagara Gazette — This week we celebrated the 237th birthday of the United States. Although the weather was not quite ideal for picnics and parties, the opportunity to spend time with family and friends was still very real, and still a lot of fun. Regardless of the weather, choosing to celebrate life with those you love is a wonderful choice.
We attended a holiday party with friends whose lovely home gave us front porch seats to the Lockport Fourth of July parade. The event began promptly at 6 and was immediately followed by a cloud bursting storm.
Despite the torrential downpour, the bag pipers played, the baton twirlers twirled, and the marching band played on. The sun came out right as the last car drove by the porch where we watched. The storm provided plenty of puddles to play in and splash in, much to the delight of the many children at this party. We enjoyed watching them very much. Rather than mourn the soggy situation, people all around us were choosing to celebrate life on this happy occasion.
Earlier in the week I had the chance to hear two amazing men share a story about the choice to celebrate life, in spite of devastating circumstances.
The first was US Army SEC Cedrick King, whose message can be heard on www.intouch.org under the title “The Price of Freedom.” This fine young soldier calmly shared the story of enduring eight straight months of intense fighting in Afghanistan and stepping on explosives after completing a battle, and while walking to secure the area.
SEC King lost both of his legs in that battle, and yet while sharing this message, he walked tall, and strong, in full uniform, and I was proud that our nation is served by such an excellent soldier.
SEC King shared that there are life losses that we cannot fix in our own power — loss of legs, child, spouse, job, etc. but, “we can overcome the losses knowing that in every pain, there is gain.” He described our lives as “ground that must be broken in order for any structure to be built ... the more the ground breaking, the higher the structure.” He encouraged us to “learn to embrace heartache and pain and use them as allies to further God’s plan … God is the master architect, and he is always building.”
Mr. King’s message, as well as the entire program, featuring other US veterans, is definitely worth hearing.
The second amazing man is former NFL safety Steve Gleason of the New Orleans Saints. His historic blocked punt in the team’s first home game after Hurricane Katrina is immortalized in a statue entitled “Rebirth” and stands in front of the stadium.
In 2011, Mr. Gleason was diagnosed with ALS (Lou Gerig’s disease), and he is already confined to a wheelchair, and has lost the ability to talk. He communicates with a computer using laser sighting technology, through which his own voice can be heard. Steve was told “prepare to die” after his diagnosis. He responded with “I’m going to prepare to live.”
After losing his ability to run, he said, “I chose to search myself for new avenues of joy….with each loss, we have worked to find a beautiful replacement … we can choose to focus on the beauty of now.”
Let the lives of these amazing men inspire you to choose to celebrate life each day.Jackie Davis is an inspirational vocalist, musician and speaker with more than 20 years of television broadcast experience. Her column appears on the first, third and fifth Friday of the month. You can contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.