Red White and Blue For You

There will be a more coherent post later — hopefully. So, yeah, this is the dog ate my homework post.

Mostly, I’m going to try to get in some relaxing time before tomorrow, when I start preparing for the fourth.

You know the way other people feel about Christmas? or perhaps their birthdays? Yeah, I feel that way about the fourth.

My older son Robert was due on the fourth of July and has only been forgiven for missing his due date by three days because he then had the good sense of being born on Heinlein’s birthday. (Okay, so he kept me in labor for three days to achieve this. I know he planed it!)

This is probably a reflection of the fact that some other people love their country – I stalk it, hide love notes in its drawers, and sometimes (in an excess of zeal) call and breathe heavily on the phone at her. But then I spent so much time looking through metaphorical binoculars across the sea and thinking I could never have her…

For someone raised in Europe, the fireworks and unabashed patriotism of the fourth should be cringe inducing, but it is instead very liberating, like a post-modern boyfriend daring to tell his café buddies “yeah, I love her more than life, what of it?”

And if I ever fail to tear up at “the land of the free and the home of the brave” bury me. I don’t care what the vital signs say, it’s a sure indication I’ve died.

3 thoughts on “Red White and Blue For You

  1. My earliest memory of the Fourth comes from a parade in Pompton Lakes, New Jersey, sometime in the late ’50s. I’d have to say ’58 or ’59. I remember standing on the verge between the sidewalk and the main street of town, and being told, “Here comes the fife and drum corps.” I didn’t know from a fife, but the drums set up a pounding rhythm in my chest that hasn’t stopped since.

    Of course, that early memory and influence would mean nothing without later reinforcement. Or… the meaning would be terribly shallow. But America and Americans have — time and time again — reinforced that numinous feeling of overwhelming pride and glory, filled that vessel those drums made of my heart over and over again.

    It’s no wonder to me that myriad millions come from all over the globe to become Americans. Or, better said, to reaffirm the American being they felt all those miles away.

    And I won’t sully the spirit of the day by naming what it is that does make me wonder.

    Happy Independence Day! Let freedom ring/Let the white dove sing/Let the whole world know…/ Roll the stone away… /It’s Independence Day.


  2. Ever see the movie Avalon? The Fourth plays a marvelous, critical role in that film about a family becoming American. Here’s hoping the country remains true to its roots and principles.

  3. There’s another version of this somewhere, but I can’t find it right now. So… I rewrote it. Hope you like it.

    O Say Can You See
    by Mike Barker (420 words)

    That Fourth of July, we had gone out with friends to sit in the park by the Charles River, on the Boston side. Just a few friends, and the other thousands who throng there for the free music and fireworks.

    We found a place and settled in on our plastic spread. We enjoyed eating our picnic dinner, then sitting and talking. Listening to the Boston Pops performance was excellent, as usual.

    But then the first fireworks whistled into the darkening sky. Around us, people jumped to their feet, and charged forward in a rush, not paying very much attention to where they stampeded. We grabbed our belongings, rolled up the plastic spread, and huddled together where we had been sitting. We stood there, as the crowd pushed and shoved to see.

    I’m 5’8″ tall. Not very tall for an American, and our friends that day were Japanese, shorter than I am. So standing in the crowd of tall Americans who had overrun our picnic spot, I wasn’t surprised to realize that I couldn’t see anything, and my friends were also standing in the shadows.

    As I glanced around, trying to find where all my friends were, and see whether they wanted to leave, I heard a voice. Somewhere off to my right, a plaintive young child’s voice said, “Mom? I can’t see anything.”

    It had gotten dark enough that I was really looking at silhouettes. Still, looking to my right, I could see an adult figure, with at least two small children. I took a step towards them, and said, “Ma’am? If it’s all right, I could lift her up?”

    I doubt that mother could have seen me any more than I could see her. Still, after a moment, she nodded and said, “All right.”

    So I knelt down and reached out. Then I lifted a small figure over my head, and sat her on my shoulders. I turned back towards where I knew the fireworks must be.

    I still didn’t see any of the fireworks that night. But from the “oohs” and “aahs” that came from my shoulders, I knew someone could. I stood tall as she watched.

    And when the show was finished, and I lowered a small figure back to the ground again… there was enough background light for me to see two bright eyes shining.

    A small voice said, “Thank you” and they disappeared into the crowd.

    Still, those fireworks that I saw in those eyes had to be some of the best I have ever seen.

    The End

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