Saturday, July 2


When I was a young'un the Fourth of July was a less martial occasion than it seems to be today. There were four basic elements to the celebration. First came the downtown parade with its assembly of marching bands, colorful tissue-encrusted floats, Shriners on their adult tricycles and go-carts, equestrian societies with their mounts beautifully decorated, WWI veterans riding in convertibles and WWII vets marching in formation, Boy and Girl Scouts, the DAR dressed in Martha Washington and Betsy Ross costumes, their husbands dressed as the Founding Fathers, and Uncle Sam on stilts. After the parade family, friends and neighbors would gather for a cookout and then, as twilight fell, walk down the street to watch the fireworks display over the bay. I wrote about the latter when I was in high school:

Fourth of July

So near the bay we lived,
We'd walk down Second Court in loose formation
Past dusty houses with screened porches
And aluminum flamingoes on the door,
Cross Beach Drive towards Jones' Fish Market.
You couldn't see it from the street,
But obscured by masses of palmettoes
Was a little beach known only to old Cove dwellers
And the crews of shrimp boats
Passing on their way to deliver their catch.
We'd spread blankets and place handbags and heavy shoes at each corner
To anchor them in the strong bay breeze.
The younger children would race up and down the beach in their excitement,
And when energy ran down, plunk themselves on the sand
As close to the water as parents would permit.
My elder sisters would gaze wistfully
At the fine big houses up the Cove
And the jaunty sailboats and cruisers whose safety lights surrounded them
With a festive golden aura amid the evening shadows.
I would separate myself from the rest,
Find a large piece of driftwood underneath which I would tuck my sandals for safekeeping.
Barefoot, I would luxuriate in the feel of dry sugar-sand between my toes
And lose myself in romantic imaginings.
The first skyrockets sounding from the marina
And spreading eerie colorful distorted reflections upon the bay waters,
We would reunite at once,
Sharing the anticipation of each,
Feeding upon one another's delight.

This year I would like to forget how our celebration of freedom and love of country has been manipulated into support for foreign adventurism, illegal aggression and wars of choice. But there's no forgetting. There's just my hope that our citizens will take a moment to reflect upon the changes in our national direction under this worst of all administrations, assess them accurately, and resolve to reclaim our national history, values and leadership position in the world not by guns, but by the means that have, in the past, proved so successful: by presenting a living example of good governance, the rule of law and justice for all.


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