Celebrating Freemen of the Revolutionary War – Freedom – Respect – Honor – Integrity – Truth – Citizenship
I’ve been thinking about the 4th of July –
Strange – I don’t think in the pictures of fireworks and picnics right off the top of my head.
The first thing that comes into my mind is the picture of President Bush as he welcomed The Queen and reminded everyone that the last time Her Majesty stood on our shores was in 1776. That look she gave to him – it was perfect.
And, I think about the scene of George, Sr. and George, Jr. coming into the Oval office together that was on the news. When the journalists asked our country’s ex-President what he thought when he came into the room with his son behind the desk of the Oval Office – he described himself and his son in terms of the numbers of the Presidency in which they served. The odd thing was to hear a little while later, when President Bush, Jr. did the same thing.
I do love seeing the fireworks on the Fourth of July, but now my mind is filled with the scenes of grand fireworks from around the World when the year 2000 and then 2001 had finally welcomed the New Year and a New Century we had all lived to see.
Then, I remember to look up that video which is here somewhere or over at Mom and Dad’s house under some pile of things that none of us have found for awhile either. There are videos of the Olympics when they came to Atlanta which are probably about in the same place and I am reminded how hard it was to convince anybody that there was a good reason to have a video of more than the opening parade of athletes and opening ceremonies.
The next thought that flutters around in my mind’s eye is the great scroll that unfurled in the Beijing Opening Ceremonies for the Olympics and the sight of President Bush and Mssr. Putin having a quick firm and ugly discussion about Georgia and Mr. Sakhasvili in the midst of it all.
It is easier to explain why that stands out in my mind and combines with the scenes of the 4th of July if I say that I am fifty years old – soon to be 51. The ideas that we so take for granted today where world leaders sit in the same room with one another or gather to honor the opening ceremonies of the Olympics in a hosting country that previously would’ve simply yielded no entry – are to me, wondrous and grand. It never would’ve happened when the days of the Cold War ran everything in its own insidious way.
Don’t tell the British in particular, but when I celebrate the Fourth of July – I always have a picture in my mind of Francis Scott Keyes looking out at the “fireworks” of a battle waged where the loss of life was dear and the risks of an uncertain future under an oppressive and distant kingdom were dire should we have failed. Obviously with the name, Phillips, that I have by birth, there is a trail in our family back to Britain prior to the Revolutionary War and I do have a special feeling of loyalty to The Crown – but its never a proposition of choice since to serve the interests of my America, serves the interests of both. It makes me a citizen of the World and reminds me that the ripples of my life far surpass the time my life is lived. For that too, I am responsible.
The scenes of British Redcoats in columns and lines with their fine wool uniforms, come flooding into my mind with our ragged lot hiding in trees and from branches using even older rifles than the age of most British soldiers they were fighting. That part might only be my imagination, but it seems like the equipment our great great grandfathers and great great grandmothers were using didn’t have a brigade to simply take care of those weapons the same way Her Majesty’s silver gets polished.
First and foremost, the Fourth of July reminds me that I am a citizen and for that I am responsible. The tears flow from my eyes unhindered and my spirit soars when the bands play, with people crossing all lines of prejudice to join in a song of freedom occurring spontaneously as we all sing the words we know and make up the rest to The Star Spangled Banner, America The Beautiful and other songs of our national heritage. It becomes a moment of celebration and an honor for our America and for our lives which are only available to us by the freedom of choice given to each of us and paid in full by the sacrifice of our forefathers.
And then – I remember the fireworks. The thing about our family is that we never get there before the fireworks – Oh, no. We see them from the car driving around the parking lot of a nearby strip shopping mall because we can’t get any closer having not set out to see them until about the time they started. We’ve stopped on a hill near where I live now, on countless other years at Fourth of July because otherwise we wouldn’t have seen any fireworks at all.
The scene across the City of Atlanta and across Cobb County where I live can all be viewed from this one high point nearby – so after driving around trying to figure out where to watch the fireworks until they started popping around in the sky everywhere, we finally stopped in the parking lot on that hill and watched the celebration from there on several July Fourths.
A couple years ago, my parents, grandmother and I went to Helen, GA for the Fourth of July fireworks and the entire mountain was set on fire by them. But, we didn’t just sit there and watch them. Grandmother and I were sitting in the back of the van craning around trying to get a clear glimpse of a bit of the fireworks’ colors here or there or out the side window or through the tiny little sun visor or through the back glass as we sat in traffic that was rolling in a huge traffic jam while the hill where the mayor lived caught fire.
That is quite a sentence – but it really did happen just that way. I’ll never do that again, but they had the prettiest fireworks. I guess they spent so much on them that they weren’t going to not use them even after they dispatched the firetrucks to put out the fire and it was still raging up the mountainside.
The freedom of being an American that we see celebrated across the World on the Fourth of July always catches me off guard. I never think about it until then. I forget our Americanism and our spirited innovative way of doing things until I see the admiration for our Flag and our People joining in picnics and song and celebration of the Ideals and Principles of our Federation. That is what I see when our anthem is played and families who don’t even know one another or get along at any other time, stop and sing with hand over hearts and hats in hand, together. Where our allegiance is one and our bond is by honor rather than by prejudice, bigotry and hate.
That is what the Fourth of July reminds me each year I live to experience it once more. I remember the planes of my childhood that are mine because they belong to my USA, which the Air Force and I both hold in our hearts and minds with great esteem and pride.
In my mind, I can hear the sound of “76 Trombones” playing as our service personnel dress out the field with a style that is both precision and an awe-inspiring intensity of self-discipline while magnificent jet planes flying with a great rumbling roar of sound mesmerize the senses. I was born into those sights and sounds – “I was ruint from the get-go.” That last part is a Southern statement – just ignore it.
Last year, I said that “Freedom means being able to drink Coca-Cola out of a Mason jar without being forced to act better than that whether you want to or not.” It was my quote of the year. That is the best part about the Fourth of July and about Freedom, as well. It suggests an unconditional respect for the strength and advantage of diversity, individuality, citizenship, and personal accountability to something greater than ourselves and our lifetimes. I genuinely do believe it and the Fourth of July reminds me how precious that is.
– cricketdiane, 07-02-09, (9.07 p.m.)
“Independence Day 2009”