HAPPY BIRTHDAY AMERICA

I hope everyone had a wonderful Independence Day and weekend. I hope it was one that you will always remember and never forget.

As we celebrated this Independence Day I would like to reflect on some time-old traditions that have made this day special. Traditionally family and friends would get together to celebrate. There would be cookouts and barbeques. The scent of hamburgers, hotdogs and barbeque cooking over a hot-fired grill would give off an aromatic aroma that would make a groups stomach sound like a pack of young lions bellowing out. Ice cold watermelon in the afternoon possibly along with a seed spitting contest and then a friendly football, softball or volleyball game amongst everyone. In the evening a fireworks show at a local park or out in an open field.

Maybe there would be a parade in town. A high school band marching as they played patriotic songs that would make any parents or war veterans’ heart swell with pride. An ROTC unit in full uniform marching in order holding the American flag out front and center while others carry their rifles on their shoulder, showing off their skills to a well-choreographed shout from a squad leader. Maybe there would be horses and buggies carrying cowboys and cowgirls while they hold their flags high with pride. And let’s not forget the fire-trucks and police cars with sirens blaring all draped with the Stars and Stripes. Kids waving their small flags on the sidewalks and when the big flag would come by everyone would put their hand over their hearts and soldiers and veterans would salute. The only thing that would probably be missing from the parade is jolly old Saint Nick himself. But this parade isn’t about him, this parade would center on the one thing that many of our forefathers and many today have fought and died for. A land and country we call the “Land of the Free and Home of the Brave.” And the grandest thing of all that we take pride in is Old Glory itself, the American flag.

We would have sparklers, firecrackers and bottle rockets to shoot off in our backyard. It didn’t matter if you lived in the country or the city. It may have been annoying to the neighbors but they knew in a day or two all the excessive noise will be subsided and everyone would go back to their daily lives and routine.

We celebrated our 4th with some friends that I grew up with. Maw Motes, as I’ve began calling her and her husband, Paw Motes, a few short years ago were another set of parents growing up that I answered to. Since Paw Motes went on to be with the Lord just a few months back I told my wife and everyone else that would listen; I’m going to spend the 4th with Maw Motes wherever she was going to be. Maw and Paw Motes’ youngest son and I grew up together as best of friends and I quit calling him “friend” a long, long time ago. We’ve called each other “Bro” or “Brother” for years now and sometime we would call each other the occasional “Goofball” or “Knothead” everyone once in awhile.

We did a few of the traditional things that I had mentioned earlier. We helped shell peas and beans, had a cookout, talked about old times, refreshed our memory of some old friends and folks that others had forgotten about. My wife and I were taught a new, maybe it was an old, way of playing dominoes. We laughed and carried on until it was time to go and watch the fireworks display at the nearest town.

Summerdale, Alabama is a small town in Baldwin County in south Alabama that dots one of the many expressways and highways headed toward the beaches of the gulf coast. I quickly learned it was a town that prided itself on good southern traditions as well, the kind my wife and I love to look for. The people were friendly and the fireworks display was wonderful. Everyone parked on both sides of the road and sat on tailgates of trucks, brought out lawn chairs or just stood there propped against a vehicle waiting for the fireworks display to begin. A few people sat inside their vehicles. While we waited for the show to start the good Lord gave us a show of his own by sending us some thunder and lightening in the distance. I think everyone prayed for the rain to hold off until the fireworks show was over, to which it did.

To say the least as tired and exhausted as I was, it was hard for me to go to sleep that night. I lay there reflecting on the events of the day, trying to burn them into my memory forever. And of course part of my insomnia could have been from hearing fireworks continuously going off in the distance. Before finally dozing off to a restful sleep I quietly lay there and gave thanks to the Lord for letting me live in a country where freedom is still free, for now and hopefully for generations to come, and where we could have good memories of good times with good friends.

Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord; and the people whom he hath chosen for his own inheritance.  Psalms 33:12

Independence Day

My fondest memory of celebrating Independence Day was when everyone gathered with friends and family and had a cookout, eat watermelon and pop our few firecrackers.  I don’t know about the rest of the country but being from the South it wasn’t always just hotdogs and hamburgers.  We would cook anything and everything we could think of on the grill; chicken, pork chops, sausage, ribs and I even remember a few times thick-sliced bologna being thrown on the grill.

As the years went by we got away from the traditional celebration with friends and family. Everyone stayed at their own homes, watch television and cooked out.  It wind up that I and many others would have to work on “The” most important date in our country’s history.  It seemed to me that the country as a whole was getting away from remembering what this day was all about.  It’s not only about our independence from foreign rule but also the ones that have fought for our freedom and those that are standing guard and fighting today. 

A few years back I felt a yearning for the good times. My wife and I made a cross state trip to spend the 4th with friends we call family to have a big cookout. That will wind up as one of the most memorable fourth’s for me.  This year we got to participate in a town’s parade. I enjoyed meeting people I didn’t know and some I haven’t seen in a while.  After the parade with all our new-found friends we shared hotdogs and watermelon and sat down and talked.  The thought came to me during this time that some others were beginning to think like me; that America is forgetting what the special holidays are really set aside for and concentrating on more of the here and now. Too many are more concerned with trying to get to their destination on time and basking in the sun on a beach or at a lake then actually spending quality time with their family and smiling at their American brothers and sisters on the way.

As American’s lets never forget the real meaning of this special day. Take a moment out of your busy schedule and give God above thanks for His glorious bounty of this great nation. And don’t forget to say a prayer for those that stand guard over us as we sleep.  “Thus saith the Lord, stand ye in the ways, and see, and ask for the old paths, where is the good way, and walk therein, and ye shall find rest for your souls…” (Jeremiah 6:16) Everyone have a great 4th of July and let’s never forget.