Thursday, July 2, 2009

Happy Birthday, USA!

Every year, as Independence Day approaches, a wide variety of somewhat scattered thoughts and memories again come to mind.

I remember the year that my brother almost blew himself up. If memory serves me correctly, our family was camping at a park in Ontario (or it could have been Otsego, or Osceola). He and I were about 7 and 10 years old, and we each had a bucket of fireworks. We were sitting on the beach as darkness moved in, and enjoying the fireworks of other campers when his bucket caught a spark while under him. The entire beach lit up, and he must have been lifted 3 feet into the air! Luckily, the only damage was a destroyed bucket and a hot behind.

My family often went on July 4th to Lake Phalen, on St. Paul’s East Side, to sit on the shore and watch the fireworks display over the water. I have very distinct memories of those hot summer nights, and the chorus of oooooo’s and aaahhhhh’s that accompanied every colorful burst.

The sight of Air Force fighter jets, screaming above the treetops during the annual Forest Lake parade, always gives me a chill and puts a lump in my throat.

As many as a few weeks of random booms, off in the distance, seem normal at this time of year. I can’t help but compare them to a different sort of random boom that people hear from their homes in Iraq, Afghanistan, Somalia, or elsewhere a war is being waged.

I admire the steady and fearless military of our country, as they protect us at home and afar, and provide the security and safety we sometimes take for granted.

When I was on a business trip to New England a few years ago, I was able to walk on some of the battlefields of the Revolutionary War. It is an amazing feeling, to gaze out on a grassy field at Lexington and imagine the conflict that took place there, over 200 years ago.

I’ve started a painting, of bold, colorful fireworks exploding over the lift bridge in Stillwater. Other work has been put in front of it, but I will get back to it and finish it in time for next year’s Independence Day celebration.

Every year, sometime during the middle of June, I glance at the cornfields along the roadways, and wonder if the small, green sprouts will be “knee high by the 4th of July.” Once the 4th rolls around, I am always amazed that the corn is knee high, and sometimes already as high as my waist.

I love to see the flag displayed, exhibiting pride in our country and its people, and reminding me of the founding principles on which the United States of America was formed.

Does anyone else have 4th of July memories or thoughts they would like to share?

1 comment:

Jamie said...

I remember hearing that story about my Dad...sure glad he didn't blow up! I too think of our Country and the bravery of our soldiers around this time and how proud I am to be an American. As a kid I always remember our 4th of July picnics that still carry on as a tradition today, with great food, good company, firecrackers and fun! I'm interested to see your painting og the fireworks over the Stillwater bridge once it is complete. Happy 4th of July!