As we approach July 4th and celebrate independence and freedom for America, we also have the opportunity to reflect on what that means for us and for the whole world.

Independence Day is a reminder for anyone around the world that, under the hand of God, we can be led out of bondage and escape any bonds that we may have. It is also a reminder that we have the freedom to make decisions- and the sacred responsibility to make good decisions.

Years ago, Mormon prophet- President Spencer W. Kimball- shared a story about the decision he made when he attended 4th of July celebrations as a boy.

“I remember as a boy going to the Fourth of July celebration on the streets of my little town and seeing some of the men as they took part in the horse racing as participator or as gambler, betting on the horses, and I noted that many of them had cigarettes in their lips and bottles in their pockets and some were ugly drunk and with their bleary eyes and coarse talk and cursing.

“It took a little time to match the ponies and arrange the races, and almost invariably during this time there would be someone call out, “Fight! Fight!” and all the men and boys would gravitate to the fight area which was attended with blows and blood and curses and hatreds.

“Again I was nauseated to think that men would so disgrace themselves, and again I made up my mind that while I would drink the pink lemonade on the Fourth of July and watch the horses run, that I never would drink liquor or swear or curse as did many of these fellows of this little town.

“And I remember that without being pressured by anyone, I made up my mind while still a little boy that I would never break the Word of Wisdom. I knew where it was written and I knew in a general way what the Lord had said, and I knew that when the Lord said it, it was pleasing unto him for men to abstain from all these destructive elements and that the thing I wanted to do was to please my Heavenly Father. And so I made up my mind firmly and solidly that I would never touch those harmful things. Having made up my mind fully and unequivocably, I found it not too difficult to keep the promise to myself and to my Heavenly Father.”

To read the rest of the talk, click here.