Christmas and the Fourth of July were my father’s favorite times of the year. He would start “practicing up” for each commemoration about December first for Christmas and right after Memorial Day for the Fourth of July. Christmas is a ways off but our country’s birthday is rapidly approaching with Memorial Day having been this past weekend.
Memorial Day is an officially recognized federal holiday enacted to honor those members of our armed forces who gave their lives so the rest of us could enjoy the blessings of liberty. It is altogether fitting and proper that Memorial Day and the day we declared our freedom from Great Britain are linked in our minds and hearts.
It brings forth sadness and gratitude to see American flags adorning the graves of those who suffered an early death for us while we have the opportunity and the obligation to say thank you to their memory. The same feelings arise when we remember the courage and sacrifice of those fifty-six men who together pledged their “lives, their fortunes and their sacred honor” on July 04, 1776.
So, how do we go about “practicing up” to celebrate our collective birthday? Benjamin Franklin, the oldest of the signers, enthusiastically directed us to honor our Day of Independence with explosions (fireworks), the mass consumption of flame cooked meats (barbecue) and patriotic music. My father, and I am confident most of yours, Gentle Readers, took Ben’s advice to heart. Whereas, Memorial Day we usually note with solemn services followed by family dinners, most of us approach the Fourth differently, more as if we are trying to bring forth those great spirits from 1776.
From the President of the United States to governors, mayors and the leaders of civic organizations throughout our country speeches will be made. From individual families to communities at all levels, parades, barbecues, games and fireworks will be enjoyed from the morning of July 4th until the smoke finally clears late at night.
I am already practicing up.