I get sentimental around the 4th of July. I remember many of them from my childhood. There were the family barbecues, and the times spent at the local high school watching fireworks with friends. Other years involved either crabbing off a dock or spending time with dad while he was flying a model airplane in some field somewhere or, maybe, just fishing in Shinnecock. As a child, I can see myself running up and down our block with sparklers spitting tiny bits of fire; and, as teenagers, my sister Jayne, our friend Michael, and I chatting away, watching our sparklers burn, while perched on top of the backyard picnic table. Each year, in any way, the 4th was acknowledged.
One July 4th was particularly memorable. It was 1999 and we were vacationing in a charming, peaceful little town in VT. The sun was just going down. Children were running around the freshly mowed field, and adults were strolling with cups of homemade lemonade. Most were wearing white boat hats lined around the brim with red and blue ribbons. Two of our children twirled round and round, arms extended as if to grab the moment – until dropping dizzily to the ground. Another daughter dipped a wand into soapy liquid, blowing bubbles to the sky. I chose to take it all in from the hood of our car.
Soon dusk gave way to the night. Everyone settled down — on blankets, chairs, car hoods — all eyes looking to the stars. A burst came forth, another, another. Some rockets left trails of red, white, and blue behind as they fell back to earth; some flared high, bursting into a thousand fireflies.
Nights like these I hold close. The shutter clicks and another image is impressed into my mind, along with the smell of the grass, the cheering voices, and soon I can’t help but get gushy…
I thank God for America. It is not perfect. We have our issues and problems. But we have hope that they can be worked out to the best benefit of the people. The very idea that this is even possible is due to the sacrifice of the men and women who put themselves out there every day to keep us safe here at home. Those service men and women, past and present, have fought, sacrificed, lived, died, so that I can have the freedom to have past 4th of July’s to remember, to have a family that is safe and sound, and to have hope for a good future for all of us.
So, these fond memories of July 4th’s gone-by, I dedicate to our military and say