Today is July 4 and time to celebrate Independence Day. We can do this by reflecting on the importance of our independence and the many sacrifices that have been made to gain and keep that independence. We need to remember those many sacrifices and value what we have in this country today.
How will you be celebrating this day? Do you have a parade to go to someplace? Or a service that is dedicated to our many military veterans as well as those who serve today?
For many of us, it might be a family reunion or get together. This day is a great time to enjoy and remember family members, both present and past.
Fireworks displays are planned in many communities tonight. They are spectacular and enjoyable to watch. We also need to remember the significance of those fireworks and why we are celebrating with them.
When I was growing up, I don't remember community fireworks like we see today. Perhaps they were held in some communities, but not where we lived. Our goal, when we were 10 or 12 years old, was to earn enough money to buy a few fireworks to have our own celebration at home.
We would buy some firecrackers to make noise during the day. And we enjoyed putting them under a tin can to see how high the can would go. That usually depended on the size of the can and also of the firecracker under it.
July 4 was often a noisy day with the firecrackers going off from time to time. Our family dog named Pet hated the day. All the noise bothered her, and she would try to find some place to go to get away from it. We felt sorry for her and tried to reassure her, but she was not a happy dog and glad to see the day end.
We would save some sparklers and sky rockets to set off after dark. Many in the neighborhood would do the same, and we would have our own local show.
Our parents had set rules for us when setting off fireworks. Never hold a firecracker in your hand to light it. And never hold one and throw it at someone else. Be careful how we handled sparklers and sky rockets. They could be hot and burn once they were used up.
In your younger days, you probably had your own way of celebrating July 4. Some in our neighborhood might have some very powerful "bombs" that made a lot of noise. We never had enough money to buy those big, expensive or fancy fireworks but enjoyed them when others had them.
Today, our Independence Day celebration is much quieter. Betty and I will be going over to her son's for a family reunion. He has a big deck and swimming pool, so it is a nice place to get together.
Since Betty has a lot of local relatives, there may be 65 or 70 people at reunion. Some of them we may only see once a year, so it can be hard to remember all of them. Years ago I would kid Betty by saying she was related to half of the people in the area.
Each family brings a covered dish so there is plenty of food for everyone. Betty's son grills hamburgers, hot dogs and sausages, enough for everyone. It's almost a full-time job, but he gets lots of help and sometimes unwanted advice about how it should be done.
Many in the group play golf in the morning. They have friendly family competition to see who winds up with the lowest score. Since I don't play golf, I stay out of that contest.
So no matter how you celebrate this day. Make it an enjoyable one and spend some time with family and friends.
Parker is an independent writer for the Tribune.