March, April and May seemed longer than an entire year and then June arrived and it just flew by. This pandemic business, I do believe, has our time schedules in a state of disarray. Summer’s just begun, but it seems it’s half over already, and it is hard to believe the Fourth of July holiday is already here. School will be starting back before we know it, albeit it in a different form and fashion.
The Independence Day holiday has always been one we enjoy celebrating and when I think back to America’s Bicentennial, and all of the great celebrations that were going on from small towns to the big cities, I long for that spirit.
In Newton, where I grew up, folks painted the fire hydrants in their front yards in all types of patriotic designs and it was really a sight to behold. Yes, patriotism was alive and well in America in 1976.
That year on the Fourth of July, which fell on a Sunday — my mom said God set it up that way — everybody and their brother, it seemed, swarmed the hill at the First Baptist Church for a giant community picnic. We had a blast and I expect God planned that part too. Gatherings like that are taboo this Independence Day. That’s a shame.
Fast forward 44 years and I don’t believe we are waving the red, white and blue as we did back then. I think we need to dig down deep and see if we can’t get a little bit of that Bicentennial spirit back, if not forever at least for a little while.
This year I’m reminded again of one of my most memorable Fourth of July holidays. The year was 1980 and a group of my friends and I packed a car, a van and a little old trailer and headed to Colorado for a couple of weeks of camping in the mountains. When we left Mississippi the temperature was around 100 degrees and by the time we got to Dallas it had inched on up to about 104 if my memory serves me correctly.
When we got just past the city we decided to pitch our camp for the night at a place called Possum Kingdom State Park. No kidding. Matter of fact the name of the place was the reason we stayed there.
It was the Fourth of July and the park was packed with folks celebrating the holiday. That too will not be happening this year. There was absolutely no room in the official campground that night so we pulled off a little side road inside the park and made our own campground out on a hillside in the dark.
Not long after we got camp set up, we could hear the fireworks show begin and made our way out through this little field to catch a glimpse. By that time the blistering daylight had given way to a much more bearable evening and our private viewing area made for a perfect holiday spectacular.
Lots of Independence Days have come and gone since then and some of them we’ve celebrated more robustly than others. For certain, though, all of them we have celebrated, whether it be dueling fireworks with neighbors on the beach or dueling Miller High Life’s with friends by the pool.
This year Danny and I will be celebrating this great nation with a birthday party of two. I think we’re going to just have the traditional burger and fries and perhaps a blueberry cobbler with ice cream. A simple celebration during much less than simple times.
We’ll reminisce about the Fourths of the past and we’ll probably make plans for some in the future. One thing for certain, Old Glory will be flying high at the top of her pole, and all those red, white and blue banners, faded or not, will be back on their hooks once again. We will celebrate freedom just as we’ve done every single year.
I hope you’ll be celebrating freedom too. I hope you’ll be able to put the political labels aside and celebrate the freedom we Americans all share. We can always get back to the hate, doom, and despair come Monday, but you know what, that’s not something we absolutely have to do either.
Have a safe and happy Fourth.