Happy Independence Day!
I got nostalgic this morning, thinking about Fourth of July celebrations in my youth. I grew up in a small town in southwestern Pennsylvania--Brownsville, to be exact. I remember the parade that came through town and ended at the Little League baseball field, right across the street from my house. I always thought it was really cool to be able to sit on your own front porch and watch the parade. Of course, we always anticipated the moment when my dad, an Army reservist, would march by and we would cheer loudly.
Then the baseball games would commence. People parked their cars everywhere, and no one got a ticket. It was a town celebration. My dad would fire up the old kettle charcoal grill while we kids splashed in the inflatable pool that held no more than eighteen inches of water. He would stop grilling long enough to turn on the water hose and create an arc of cool water for us to run through (we didn't have lawn sprinklers.)
After a dinner of hot dogs, homemade potato salad, baked beans and ice cream for dessert, we would all pack into cars driven by Dad or Pappy, and head for the community park and the fireworks display. There was nothing like sitting on a blanket on the hood of the car, oooing and aaahing with just about everyone in town as colors burst overhead.
Then we'd join the slow caravan of vehicles out of the park, through town and back at home where we could usually convince my mother to give us more ice cream before bed. Cradling a bowl in our laps, my sister and I would sit on the top porch step and listen to the adults talk about their Fourth of July memories--not all that different from the ones we were creating at that moment.
It didn't occur to me at the time that my own father fought in WWII in the name of the freedom we celebrated.
Let's take time today, away from the food and the fun, to remember those who have and who continue to serve in the name of freedom.
Have a happy and safe Fourth of July.