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My fond memories of the Fourth

I have many fond memories of the Fourth of July. It's that early summer holiday that seems to freeze time: when we barbeque, watch fireworks, or gather with friends and family. But over the years, I've experienced the day in all different ways and meanings.

One of my earliest memories of the Fourth was watching fireworks with my Uncle Danny. I don't have many memories of him as he passed when I was just three, but I recall watching a show with him and my aunt and my parents. The song "Daniel" by Elton John was playing with the fireworks and now everytime I hear that song, I think of him and that moment. He died of a heart attack at 40, but I only have fond memories of him, and that was one of them.

Every July 5, my neighborhood best friend and I would take a stroll around our neighborhood looking for fireworks that still had a wick attached. We made out with quite the haul and blew off all kinds of Roman Candles, bottle rockets, M-80s. We were only kids, but it was the thrill of our lives that we found all of these free fireworks that we could blow off. It became a yearly tradition and looking back, it was rather dangerous finding these deadly fireworks with short wicks. But when you're a kid, you don't think about such things.

I remember seeing Independence Day with my dad when it came out in 1996 and thinking that it was the coolest movie ever. All of my friends wanted to see that movie, and I'm glad he took me to see it. We both enjoyed it, and I'm grateful he took me. It's one of my favorite memories with him.

I recall being at a Fourth of July party in 2014 when a couple of guys were blowing off huge fireworks and one of them told the other guy that one of them almost blew off his fingers. He was joking about it, and then said they should make it bigger next year. I just remember thinking how stupid they must be.

On July 4, 2015, my wife and I flew to Dublin. I was surprised to find that Dublin Airport was filled with American flags and Fourth of July decorations. It made me feel like we never left home. The pubs there were likewise decorated as such. It was almost as if Ireland showed more patriotism for our holiday than we did. I'll never forget that.

A family friend of ours always said that he hated the Fourth because he served in Vietnam, and it reminded him of the war. He said he would stay inside and not watch any of the shows. I never thought as much about our country as I did in those few sentences. It really put the Fourth in perspective for me.

When we won our independence from the British, John Adams said that he hoped the celebrations would be marked in years to come by “guns” and “bonfires” and “illuminations.” Back then, fireworks were accompanied with cannons and guns shot into the air. That was obviously eventually phased out with just fireworks. So I guess when you hear one of those M-80s, you can think of a cannon being shot off.

Since we are still on COVID-19 restrictions this year, some firework shows have been canceled altogether, but that doesn't mean the Fourth shouldn't mean any less to us.

John Adams would tell you that July 2 was our Independence Day, for the US Congress voted on our Independence Day on this day, but it was not approved as an actual document until July 4. Either way, this should be a day that we remember, for that's how the founders of this country intended it. Enjoy your Fourth this year.

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