This is a happy Independence Day for me. I have paid off the last of my credit card debt. This Independence Day is about redeeming the 4th of July holiday for me. The 4th of July was always my favorite non-religious holiday. I came home from an excellent holiday bash in 2002 to a message on my answering machine : Your father has died. My dad was a mean old cuss, and we had butted heads for many years. He was proud to have served his country in the navy after Pearl Harbor, and he was heartbroken and bewildered by the events of September 11, 2001. I was the kid forever trying to get away with everything I could, while always flying it just under the radar. We always hoped dad would be happier after retirement. He lived in a time when people expected to retire at 62, and live a comfortable life of leisure for the next 2 decades. But, his sense of self had been too tied to his work; and he was pretty miserable throughout his last years. I was visiting in Oklahoma city over July 4, 2008. I got into a casual conversation with a particularly bright young woman. She suggested that it seemed as if something was not right with the economy. At any rate, she said we will know it before the higher ups realize it. We were sensing the coming recession. The Great Recession has been one of the most important events of my lifetime. The other day, a young person asked me if President Obama has been the most important President in my lifetime. I reminded him that I was alive during the Cuban missile crisis, so I was not really sure just who could be said to be the most important President in my lifetime. I have respect for the seniors who point out that the Great Depression was much worse than what we are going through today. But, the Great Recession experience of watching people I know lose their homes and life savings has definitely changed me and how I live my life. And so, I am very happy to have paid off my credit card debt. I am able to participate in the frequent traveler game, and do it on my own dime. The other day I laughed to myself ; I wasn't surprised to hear that Anderson Cooper was gay, I was surprised to hear that he is 45. Wasn't I 45 just yesterday? I face challenges and choices today that my mean old dad could not have conceived of. The extent of my ability to do that is possibily the result of the grit I received from my dad's upbringing. But what I have learned from my experience is that while our lives are not perfect because we are not perfect; our lives are more perfect because of the freedom we have in them. I am ready to let my mean old dad rest in his hard won and well earned peace; as I redeem the 4th of July for my own favorite non-religious holiday. And my wish is that all Americans remain free, while making the most of the lives they get to live in their hard won freedom. Happy Independence Day.