Fourth of July Lessons

Unexpectedly spent a seriously hot Fourth of July in St. Peters, Missouri…interesting lessons to be learned every day in every way in life.  Driving around neighborhoods to watch the amazing and often illegal fireworks – literally dozens of groups in a 5-mile area, gathering in their best red, white and blue – hooting and hollering with every blast. Houses with massive flags hanging from them and patriotic draping around windows.  Mid-westerners are serious about the Fourth of July.

On the small street where my brother and his family live, the fireworks show was equal to those displayed on San Diego Bay (well, not this year…), but normally.  No exaggeration.  These were every bit the close proximity pyrotechnics you see at stadium concerts and major professional shows – in the middle of a residential street for Christ’s sake.  Illegal, yes.  Dangerous, probably.  Entertaining, hell YES!

As we took to the car to catch the area displays, we opened the sun roof so the explosions of colors dripped down on us as we sat parked awkwardly in the middle of streets to catch the best views.  Families and friends gathering for the day, enjoying their common sense of country and pride. I felt as if I was wrapped in a soft red, white and blue blanket that made me instantly related to each and every person that I saw.  Country goes as deep as blood I believe.  It’s where you or your parents (or theirs) were born. It’s where your loved ones have died.  It’s where we choose to spend our time, visit or adopt.  Doesn’t matter where we originally came from, or where we are going to be eventually.  We are all here now.

Things became quiet around 9:30 or so, and we started up the car to drive home.  Passing one small court that was entirely dark, the world was illuminated by a group of five or six small children wearing red, white and blue t-shirts with a few adults.  The children were small, maybe six or eight years of age.  Smiling, giggling and jumping for joy. In their hands, sparklers that lit up their faces and showed their sun-kissed cheeks.  It was a scene out of Life Magazine, but live.  Brought me back to my childhood and lighting sparklers in the backyard with Mom and Dad.  Dad always had a hose ready, and we thought the pin wheel firework was the biggest thing we’d ever see in life.  Funny how everything is a big deal when you are a child.

The fireworks are gone. The feelings are not.

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