4th Of July
For almost 60 years, I have been alive to witness the enthusiasm children have for the 4th of July. For me it started on the east side of Wichita in the early 50's and the summer fun with firecrackers. We would wake up on the 4th all excited and spend the day blowing up things with firecrackers and eating. Dad would grill hamburgers and we would eat them with mustard and potato chips all washed down with Pepsi. We were pretty poor so the nighttime fireworks was mostly limited to a package of sparklers or two. While they are pretty, the chance of stepping on a hot sparkler wire took a lot of fun out of it.
During the 60's, the United States was as confused and war torn as today. Seems like the entire world wanted the era to be symbolized by the US flag flying at half mast or in a burning pile somewhere. I remember the fireworks but not near as much the firecrackers as the fireworks displays in the evenings at one drive-in theater or another. By the late 60's, I found myself in uniform and during the darkness we wanted it absolutely dark. If there were bright lights and rockets screaming, it was for real.
It took a few years f the 70's to settle the war and the gas lines made it an interesting time. By the late 70's the main worry for most of us was how to make a living and pay our debts with inflation kicking in. 12% for a home loan was about average and wages weren't keeping up. But, the 4th of July became a fun holiday with the birth of our son and his wide eyed amazement at the fireworks.
During the 80's, I was again in uniform but in the Guard and trying to live the good life as best as we knew how. I was a proud American and took great pride in saluting the flag each morning as I went to work. We did have a little excitement in 1983 as a tornado ripped our house off the foundation but hey, we were OK and the house was only things. I'm pretty sure that if I look hard there are still a few things that have dirt on them in the storage room that date to 1983. Our son continued to grow up and he really discovered fireworks for the wonderful way they blew up things. One of his favorites was the little paper tanks. He could take three or four of them and a small package of fireworks and spend hours setting off the tanks and then blowing them up. During this time we did a lot of grilling and hamburgers were still high on my list of favorites. For a couple of years we spent the evening of the 4th over at my sisters watching fireworks being set off in their back yard and at the lake Sherwood by all of the other neighbors.
The 90's were mostly a blur as our careers kept us busy and the events of life kept our attention. We all waived the flag as our troops came home form that border war to free Kuwait from Saddam's illegal incursion. The local veteran's group also sponsored a welcome home parade for the Vietnam Veteran's and invited us to be in the parade. Finally got to walk in a parade proudly and be recognized for my service.
As the 90's ended, so did my wearing of my uniform. From 1966 to 1997 I wore the uniform of my country proudly. The flag is a symbol of my nation and I have the same pride today as I did when I first wore green.
We have let the politicians again return the flag to a less respected spot. It flies as a symbol of Freedom and remember that the walls are to keep others from coming here, not to keep us in. It must be a pretty damned special place to attract the hatred of the rest of the world. I think they want exactly what we have and are as willing to die to get it as we are to protect it.
Today I hope you can be as proud of our country as I am. It never was perfect but it is damn near as good as it gets. The price of freedom is high and we need to be glad we paid the price.