Posted to OGR on 07/04/2010
Independence Day was a big deal in my family while I was growing up. We usually gathered for a picnic at the beach or down at the lake. On the years that relatives that lived out of town were home for the holiday, we had a huge crowd. Everyone brought something; hamburgers, hot dogs, ribs, potato salad, cole slaw, baked beans, chips, soda and beer. It was an all day event, with the kids out swimming, playing baseball and running around like a wild herd of banshees. The adults sometimes joined us but mostly spent their time with a “cool one” in their hands and talking about their old days. During the hour long “time out from swimming” after lunch, I learned a lot about the days of my parent’s youth, as they relived times from the depression through the war years. Their stories magically transported me to places I have never seen; the beachhead at Anzio, the deserts of north Africa, the forests and fields of Europe or the vast expanses of the south Pacific. Sometimes they remembered life back in the states, keeping the home fires burning; food and gas rationing coupons, and blackouts on the coast to prevent ships from being silhouetted as they tried to evade the u-boats as they made for port under the cover of night.
Later when I came home for the Fourth as a young adult, my stories, and those of my generation were weaved into the fabric of these parties. Our tales of time at sea or in Southeast Asia were mixed with our father’s wartime tales in Europe and the Pacific. We compared our work experiences with those of our parents; needless to say things were different. The workplace was changing faster than it ever had changed before.
The Fourth of July, Independence Day, is one of those uniquely American annual events, that binds our country together on the grand scale, as it binds our individual families together on a smaller scale. While you celebrate with your family, take a moment to remember that this is our nation’s birthday. Happy Birthday, America!
Copyright 2010 Rick Wrigley