Celebrating the Fourth of July is a tradition here in America.
Usually a family affair, these days most likely a barbeque with
all the accouterments. Different menus across our country, but
I can't think of any place where watermelon as the grand finale
isn't welcome. I do recall one party where there were two
watermelons (which I thought at the time was overkill). One
watermelon was for the kids, the second one for the adults. It
had been spiked by making a hole in the rind large enough to
insert a funnel, then gradually pouring the contents of a bottle
of vodka in. Chilled overnight, it delighted and amazed the
attendees. It was a festive event.
Parties seem to be what the Fourth is about now.
I'm showing my age of course, but I do remember wonderful parades,
(and I'm a sucker for parades) with the veterans marching. The
most elder veterans often driven in that years best convertible.
My childhood summer home, Rogers City, Michigan had 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.
(You can read more here.)
The events in order were a noon ceremony for the fallen at the
cemetery across the street from my grandparents home. Then the
big parade on main street downtown, followed by the ox roast,
band concert, and then the fireworks! Townsfolk walked the few
blocks from the band stand down to the beach for the fireworks.
The biggest local business, Calcite, provided the fireworks, shot
off from a barge floating a proper distance from the beach. We
sat on the blanket grandma brought and oooded and awed at the
display. We were close enough to hear the 'whump' as the shells
were shot up into the night. It was wonderful.
All changed of course. The bandstand still lives, but in a
different park. The beach is now a terrific city marina, and
I have no idea if any of the events of the fourth exist there.
Thank God for Norman Rockwell. For those younger, he was a wonderful
New England artist who depicted America at her best. The people in
the paintings were his friends and neighbors which he dropped into
truly American scenes. Better than a photograph, the paintings were
of everyone's family and a significant part of our history. They
appeared for many years as the front cover of the Saturday Evening
Post magazine. The pictures shown is this column are by Norman Rockwell.
Our Fourth will be spent with friends at Gates Lodge on Michigan's
Au Sable River, Michigan Fish-In '07. Folks from all over the
country (and Canada) getting together to celebrate some of our
hard-fought freedoms. A band concert isn't scheduled, but someone
might have a guitar - the ox roast is downsized to barbequed beef,
and just maybe a watermelon will appear. Personal fireworks are
illegal in Michigan, so if we feel deprived too bad.
For me, for us, we are very grateful to be born in America. To be
recipients of the many benefits fought for by the heros who served
in our military. Every person who has or is serving are heros in my
mind. If it were not for them, we would have lost that freedom we
so cherish. Back during the 60's Cold War, I remember well a phrase
repeated endlessly, "Better Dead Than Red."
But, there will always be those who are not willing to stand up for
our country, our freedoms. I honestly believe they don't understand
freedom, or that someone else paid for their freedom with their life.
They don't want to understand, they would rather blame American first
for any and all of the world's ills. But of course enjoy the freedom
which allows them to do so.
Take a few minutes, take a good look at our flag. Know that thousands
died to protect it. For you. ~ The LadyFisher
In honor of all those who served in the United States Military we bring
you the original poem,
which became the "Navy Hymn." To hear it sung by the U.S. Navy Band's Sea
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