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"I think it's the height of patriotism to continue to exercise your right as a citizen and to hold your government to account. Isn't that what the very essence of democracy is about?"
– Valerie Plame  
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  Volume No. 16 Issue No. 7 July 2019  

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   Mark Stoller is a nine-year resident of Colorado. He and his wife, Andra, both U.S. Air Force veterans, moved to Falcon in 2007 and are now raising their three teenage daughters in Latigo. They enjoy their home on the prairie with plenty of room for their six adopted dogs, bagpipes & Celtic Festivals and beekeeping. Mark enjoys the privilege of his wife and daughters being his muse for topics, people to meet and places to investigate.
I hope you’re having a good summer! The year is half over, and we have already celebrated American Independence Day on July 4. "We hold these truths to be self-evident that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness." The Declaration of Independence, July 4, 1776: These words form the very foundation of our country.
   Since the days of Christopher Columbus; pilgrims, explorers, wanderers and those who were persecuted felt it would be great to find a new home and live free in America. Go to the new world! Everyone’s doing it!
   Although the colonists lived and practiced self-government in English fashion, King George needed to control and collect from his subjects who left England. The next thing you know, rebellion breaks out. The Boston Tea Party, Boston Massacre, Lexington and Concord propelled this fledgling nation into a battle for independence. We needed to shake the authority of England to live as we saw fit. This also gave us some light reading in the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution with a Bill of Rights.
   The struggle for independence still plays out in everyday America. In fact, most homes with tweens and teenagers experience rebellion in the form of hormonal angst, vying for control to make their own decisions, decide what friends to have, what to do after high school — and the list goes on.
   This year, Independence Day took on greater personal meaning for me. Our oldest daughter, Alex, has graduated from high school and community college. She is going to leave home for the next chapter in her life.
   We are blessed we didn’t experience rebellion and fighting against the rules/boundaries we set. She was so happy taking college courses that she didn’t feel the need to push back. In a matter of weeks, we will take her to college a couple states away. There is no doubt she is ready to fly the nest and be on her own.
   I have talked before about being in the sandwich generation. We are fortunate to be able to care for our aging parents at the same time we are raising our girls. Neither set of parents is willing to admit they could use more help or be dependent on us. Both Andra’s and my parents are from the generation defined by their fierce independence. Lately, I’ve tried many times to tell my Dad to act his age after watching him go at great speed on a knee scooter following his foot operation.
   Just as England released the American colonies, independence is granted by those in authority who can let go. I separated from the Air Force and the constant deployments in 2008 to be a full-time, present and involved husband and father.
   Andra and the girls will tell you I’ve completely invested myself in these roles. So much to the point that I have recently been lovingly encouraged to “you know, uh, maybe find a hobby or other interests.” Bittersweet but true –- my girls are growing up and don’t need me as they did before.
   We are the Land of the Free because of the brave patriots who came before us and those who currently stand the watch. Oh, and one last thought for parents who are home with school age kids over the summer — your Independence Day is just around the corner! D 49 begins the next school year Aug. 2.
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