I’ve always wished my birthday could have been on the 4th of July. It is, by far, my favorite of all the national holidays after all. From the parades in the morning, the hot dogs for lunch, the naps in the afternoon, all the way to the fireworks at night. It doesn’t matter if it’s with family, friends, customers or just the town folk, I always have had a good time on the day of America’s birthday.
My dad has always said I have been pretty patriotic. I’ve always loved the fireworks. What kid doesn’t? Grown or not. You still ‘ooo’ and ‘ahh’ don’t you. Anyway, I guess when I was a but a wee tot I was saluting the flag whenever I saw it being marched in parades. I’m 43 now and I salute a flag whenever it is properly displayed. Just the other day I visited the town offices with my buddy Mike and as we walked by, I snapped off a crisp salute, as if I would have to a General in the army. Mike sort of chuckled and said “why did you do that?” I had no other answer than “because I always have.” I’ve felt it was the right thing to do. My patriotism is second nature. Ingrained. Instinctual.
My first real powerful recollection of July 4th, the one defining day I think I understood what it really all meant, was July 4th, 1976. I was 11 and we had gone to Washington, DC for the day. It wasn’t far for us that year as we used to live in Manassas, VA and were on vacation there at the time. I just remember the throng of people, the feeling of excitement, the colors, the historical reenactments and of course, the fireworks display of all fireworks displays (at least at that time) that I witnessed that night. That night I felt like one of the three men that had marched through a littered battlefield, wounded, bandaged but free before someone called out “God Bless America.” History had finally sunk in.
Every July 4th since I have looked forward to the day with anticipation. No matter if I have to work, or if I am separated from family, or if I am left to fend for myself for the day, I have enjoyed the entire day as an event. Decorations, being in the parade (which I have done on many occasions, including this year as a business owner!), hanging out and seeing all the towns people, chowing down hot dogs or BBQ chicken and then hanging out for the rest of the day until the fireworks. That in itself is like another entire event to get all worked up over for me. The sound, smell, sight of it all. I breathe it all in as patriotism.
Granted, it may help I am in a relatively small town that has had nothing but perfected, responsible growth over the last 30 plus years and the attitudes to this day (in town) mirror mine. Still, we are in a large county and surrounded by the biggest city in Vermont and bordered by very fast growing towns. So we feel the negativity that is directed towards this day too. I’ll be the first to admit that I have had my own issues with the way things have been shaping up in this country and the direction it appears we are headed, but I am steadfast in my belief that things will get figured out and our liberties, our freedoms, our pursuits will be as they always have been. Ours to which we have earned. I remember that on a day like today. Be it July 4th, 1976 or July 4th , 2009. I still believe…in America.