Just a few memories of past "Fourths":
- When I was a kid, we lived half a block from Cessna Stadium, the football stadium on WSU's campus where the local ABC affiliate hosted a huge Fourth of July celebration each year. My sisters and their families would come over every year, and we barbecued and watched fireworks. We could see the fireworks from our backyard, but trees obstructed a full view, so we usually went up to the church on the corner and watched from their lawn. Or some years, we fought the crowds and went to the show in the stadium. Great bands, air force flyovers, just an awesome rousing show.
The fireworks there were the best I've ever seen in my life -- the "Concert in the Sky" they called it, everything timed and coordinated to the music, like choreography. I think I heard later that the company who put on these displays was the same one who did the famous firework display at the Statue of Liberty for its anniversary.
This defines Independence Day for me: grilled burgers, mom's potato salad, homemade ice cream, and an amazing Concert in the Sky. Nothing since has ever equaled it.
- My husband's family lived in a neighborhood that had a tradition of getting together for a neighborhood potluck breakfast on the morning of the Fourth. We have been there a couple years to participate in this, and I thought it was a great tradition. We decided to try it in New Jersey one year, and it was a good experience there, too. Our family made biscuits and gravy for the potluck. I was amazed how many of our NJ neighbors had never had biscuits and gravy . . . and how many of them were reluctant to even try it. Seriously? The best breakfast ever.
- This isn't necessary a July Fourth memory, but it is one I remembered last night when they played Lee Greenwood's "God Bless the USA". I was in my first year of teaching at Blue Springs High School when the first Iraqi war began in 1991. In fact, I was eating out with teacher friends, celebrating the last day of the semester, when we saw the news story on the restaurant's TVs.
The next day was a teacher workday to get our grades finished and turned in. All the teachers were at the school, working with their radios on in their rooms, ready to hear the latest on the attacks. It was a somber and heavy day. I walked by the room of one of my friends (one whom, incidentally, my youngest is named after) and saw she had put down her pen and papers, had her head in her hands, and was crying. From her radio I heard, "And I'll gladly stand up next to you and defend her still today . . . " She had become overwhelmed with the words of the song and couldn't continue grading.
For some reason, that image will always stay with me.
- Last night, we went to the Sioux City Explorers game. I suppose an evening of America's Favorite Pastime is an appropriate way to spend the holiday, but . . . you know . . . baseball. It's three or four hours of sitting for a few moments of wahoo-ing scattered here and there. And this game went to twelve innings -- the last two hours of the game, they were tied 3-3. It finally ended with one of our boys hitting a homer out of the park -- and yes, that was darn exciting. But worth the two-hour wait? I dunno . . .
The fireworks, though, were worth the wait. Although they were no Concert in the Sky.