The Fourth of July has significant meaning for Americans all across our great land. It signifies the birth of our country and our independence from the rule of a monarchy. Brave men fought for a belief that they held so dear so that you and I might enjoy the freedoms we know today.
Freedoms that some of us, sadly, take for granted.
The Fourth of July has always held a special place in my heart. As a boy growing up, before I knew the significance of the day, I marveled at the beauty of the brightly colored fireworks that adorned the night sky.
I winced in fear as the report of the explosions echoed overhead, and cheered with the crowd when the ground displays showed patriotic symbols like Uncle Sam and a bald eagle.
No, I didn’t know what all the excitement was about when I was young. But I stood beside my father and learned from his example. It was one of those milestones in a boy’s life.
I couldn’t have been more than four or five at the time, but I still remember the marching band playing “America the Beautiful” and standing proud with my hand over my heart as the Star Spangled Banner played over the loudspeakers and the American flag was raised to celebrate the occasion.
Every year, the volunteer fire department raised money to buy the fireworks, and the town sponsored the celebration at our high school football field.
As I grew older, our family, like many others, made a tradition of grilling hot dogs and hamburgers and Mom made huge helpings of potato salad and other dishes. The highlight of any family picnic is always the dessert, and the Fourth of July was no different. My favorite, without fail, was freshly cut watermelon.
I had a large family growing up. There were four boys. We also had a few families in our neighborhood who let their children come over for baseball or water games with the slip ‘n’ slide.
By the time the sun went down, Dad always brought out a bag of fireworks and we had fun with sparklers and bottle rockets before piling into the car and driving into town to watch the big display at the school.
Now that I’m grown, I still enjoy the festivities of the Fourth of July. But the significance of the day is no longer a mystery to me.
I know the risk our founding fathers took when they signed the Declaration of Independence. The many men who died fighting for the freedom they believed was a God-given right will never be something I take for granted, especially knowing friends who have lost their lives in recent years defending the freedom that you and I enjoy today.
For me, the Fourth of July will always be filled with memories of summer picnics, family fellowship, and of course fireworks. It is, without a doubt, the most patriotic day of the year.
I challenge you to join me in keeping that patriotism in your heart all year long and not just for a single day. It’s something I know that we can do.
Do you have special Fourth of July memories from your childhood? If so, I’d love to hear about them. Feel free to leave a comment below, send me a tweet, or even an email. I look forward to hearing from you.
Have a great weekend!
Boyd Coleman is a landscape architect in Phoenix, Arizona. He can be reached on twitter at @CDGLA or email: firstname.lastname@example.org