June 30, 2010
Long ago the Fourth of July was a day at the lake: canoeing about, diving from a dock, falling out of the canoe, swimming a race. Night came and there was the camp fire ready to roast hot dogs, roast marshmallows with graham crackers and a piece of Hershey’s chocolate, potato salad, corn-on-the-cob, and watermelon. The stars came out and fireworks sparkled over the lake’s water. Home the next day was with a flaming-red sunburn.
Long ago the Fourth of July was the half-way through summer. Time to think of pencils, tablets, books, and if one were lucky, perhaps new clothes for the first day of school. Time to check out your friends.
Long ago the Fourth of July was a signal summer was fleeting – soon to be gone. Time then for us to get out our traveling lists and update them. Working as a seasonal park ranger meant packing and living out of suitcases for three months. Time to cross off items we hadn’t used and never needed. Time to plan the list for next year – those things we wished we had and needed. After 15 years of summers in the National Parks, we had mastered “travel light”.
Long ago the Fourth of July was the morning we stood at attention and in awe as a lone bagpiper marched down the street, followed by the American flag held high, waving in the breeze, high school band playing patriotic marches. We neighbors stood, hats off, hand on the heart, as the parade passed by. At the end of the parade someone led the Pledge of Allegiance and we all joined in. Then the cookies and lemonade – and maybe, when we were really lucky, homemade ice cream.
The Fourth of July in 2010 is here. As we celebrate our independence, let us take time to pause and remember the cost that was paid; take time to be truly grateful – take time to remember the responsibility that is ours to pass freedom on to the next generations.
The Fourth of July is a day, a time and a gift. Appreciate it and enjoy it.