Kathy here: Happy 4th of July! Seven-Layer Salad – check; pasta salad – check; baked beans – check; I’m just waiting for the cream cheese to soften enough to blend with the whipped cream for the strawberry dessert and my assigned food duties for the Day will be complete! Our backyard barbeque version of Independence Day is a fairly recent development and may look a bit different from yours. Living 12 miles from “Washington, DC’s Summer Capital,” we tend to move little and prefer to stay put on the 4th. Those in the Hamptons know what I’m talking about. Add in the employment of loved ones in businesses heavily dependent on tourist dollars and, well, we all want a little peace and quiet. Now, let’s back up.
When we were at Cape , the holiday was just one of the Big Three that the kids and I worked through to get to autumn. Jim? He jumped between putting the fear of God into wayward lifeguards to handling domestic disputes in the campground to reconciling daily fee totals to fixing glitches at the sewer treatment plant. Oh yeah. Fun. Since Kurt was doing the same thing at Delaware Seashore, Pam and I and the 5 Littles often muddled through together… that was fun. And, we did squeeze in fireworks now and again. Although never those in Rehoboth Beach obviously! Finding them in Sussex County was often a Willy-Wonka-Golden-Ticket sort of mission…a town would offer them one year but not the next…then a new town popped up with them. Of course, nothing was advertised…to this day, it’s mostly word-of-mouth. It did foster a certain sense of camaraderie among those of us who actually found the firework event! The best? In the late 1980s, we gathered on Lewes Beach and shared the show with New Jersey. The fireworks were launched from a platform/boat in the middle of the Delaware Bay. Wow is the best word here.
That on-the-water display takes me back to elementary school. Since our childhood memories dance and play, my recollection of traveling to Marshall Hall Amusement Park for fireworks with my grandparents may or may not have been an annual event. The memory is sure vivid though. Mount Vernon sat in flickering splendor to the southwest; by walking into the Potomac River just a bit and leaning way, way over, I could see the glow of DC at the other end. Then, we each claimed a spot on one of the fallen trees on the riverbank, digging our toes into the silty, almost-cold sand; our backsides became comfortably damp from the logs as – whoosh, whoosh – the fireworks were launched one after the other. We were surrounded by light as the river reflected all that the sky held. Funny, I distinctly remember that most folks spoke in hushed tones as we made our way back to our cars for the ride home. Wow applies here too, doesn’t it?
Philosophical musings of the day? This feisty holiday captures the spirit that lives in every U.S. citizen…that moves my country forward. Democracy is messy, messy, messy. How could it not be? It’s based on the belief that each person has value and brings the gathered assembly something nobody else does. That means opinions will be varied…sharing those opinions will sometimes be heated. Imagine the down-and-dirty disagreements that must have occurred in 1774-1775! But, the greatest minds of many ages that met then managed to fold their own agendas into a common path. I know in my bones that we can get there again. Perhaps if our Fourth Branch of Government (the press and us) got back on track? Perhaps if we welcomed those willing to sacrifice to claim this country as their own? Canadians included, of course.