I could have sworn Norman Rockwell did a Saturday Evening Post
cover which is burned in my memory. I searched the Internet for
two afternoons looking for it - and if it exists I didn't find it.
I was looking for a painting of a portly gentleman, white hair,
dark blue uniform sitting on a chair with his tuba on an old fashioned
bandstand, the victorian-type structure where town band concerts
were held. Standing as close as possible was a kid, in absolute awe.
I really wanted you to see that painting (which probably only is
in my mind) because it was so typical of the 4th of July event
where I spent my summers growing up. That day, for little me,
was full of joy and wonderment.
For the 4th, the bandstand in the little park right in the middle
of town, was always swathed in red, white, and blue bunting, the
community band, in their crisp uniforms played nothing but John
Phillip Sousa - all the best of all marches. The closing piece
was the Stars and Stripes Forever. I've written about the 4th in
Rogers City, Michigan before, and when I think of what is best
about America, what patriotism is all about, I 'see' the 4th in
This was all long before politically correct, Ralph Nader and
terrorist attacks. The most incorrect thing which happened in
Rogers was to call the Post Master the Post Mistress! (She
was a woman). That was really bad! This all took place
while World War II was at it's worst.
There was a free ox roast before the band concert. The ox was
cooked over a hardwood fire on a spit outside, under the stars
(started the night before) and food was laid out in iced
containers. You got a plate, your silverware and went through
the line choosing what you wanted. When you reached the ox, a
slab was sliced off and placed on a bun. Park benches were
everywhere and folks visited back and forth. In the shade
was a huge mysterious tan-colored wet mound. Eventually
the big wet canvas tarp was removed and ice cream tubs stacked
on huge blocks of ice were revealed. The kids were first in line.
Men in white shirts with the sleeves rolled up scooped ice cream
until dark. That's when the fireworks started down on the beach.
Going to public school in Bay City, Michigan from grade school
until I graduated from high school, the Pledge of Allegiance
and the Lord's Prayer were said first hour every morning.
Students from the radio/tv class lead both from the main
office intercom, and it was considered an honor to do so.
The National Anthem was also honored. I remember standing
in our living room, (yes, we stood anytime we heard it then,)
right hand over my heart, listening to the National Anthem on
the radio at the start of a Detroit Tigers baseball game.
To do otherwise would have been an insult to our country
and our flag.
At parades, men removed their hats (unless they were military)
and stood quietly at attention with hand over heart as the flag
passed by. Those who were military saluted the American flag
as it passed. Surprising as it may seem, kids stopped whatever
they were doing and also stood at attention, hands over their
hearts. It simply was the right thing to do.
It was also required at my school, 8th grade I think, to memorize
Abraham Lincoln's Gettysburg Address. I wonder how many of today's
students even know what it is - or why it was given. As much as
I would like to turn back the clock and return America to a better
time, I know I can't.
But I can encourage you and yours to read aloud the following
this 4th of July, 2002. Share it with your family. Let them hear
these words which helped frame the face of America.
JC and I hope you have a safe and happy holiday - hug your
family and go fish! ~ LadyFisher
The Gettysburg Address|
Delivered by President Abraham Lincoln
November 19, 1863
Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth
on this continent, a new nation, conceived in Liberty,
and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.
Now we are engaged in a great civil war, testing whether that
nation, or any nation so conceived and so dedicated, can long
endure. We are met on a great battle-field of that war.
We have come to dedicate a portion of that field, as a final
resting place for those who here gave their lives that that
nation might live. It is altogether fitting and proper that we should
But, in a larger sense, we can not dedicate -- we can not
consecrate -- we can not hallow -- this ground. The brave men,
living and dead, who struggled here, have consecrated it, far
above our poor power to add or detract. The world will little
note, nor long remember what we say here, but it can never
forget what they did here. It is for us the living, rather,
to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who
fought here have thus far so nobly advanced. It is rather
for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining
before us -- that from these honored dead we take increased
devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full
measure of devotion -- that we here highly resolve that
these dead shall not have died in vain -- that this nation,
under God, shall have a new birth of freedom -- and that
government of the people, by the people, for the people,
shall not perish from the earth.
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