Stars and Stripes Forever

Some of my favorite summer memories are of the Fourth of July celebrations we’ve had over the years.

There were the fireworks at Brittlebank Park here in Charleston, before they moved it to Patriot’s Point. We’d get there early, before the sun went down, and spread our blanket out on the grass and just hang out and enjoy the cool breeze coming off the Ashley River. This was before the time of smart phones and everyone being connected via WiFi and Facebook and social media so we actually made friends with the people sitting next to us. There was always delicious food – hot dogs and soda and ice cream. And someone was always selling glow sticks that we begged for because apparently the fireworks weren’t enough.

There was the time we went into Philadelphia to watch the fireworks over the art museum. I don’t remember much about that time except for the fact that the crowds were ridiculously crazy and there was nowhere to sit so we stood most of the night and then piled our tired and sticky bodies into the van and sat for hours in traffic to get home. I missed the celebration in Charleston terribly that year.

We spent years after that going back to our high school because we definitely weren’t going to repeat the Philadelphia experience. We spread blankets on the same field where we used to run for gym and didn’t have to worry about making friends because all of the people we had walked those halls with were there with their families. We brought coolers and snuck cold beer into red solo cups and listened as the booms were punctuated by the patriotic music. I always got chills when they played “God Bless the USA” or the “1812 Overture” because those were always my favorites.

There was our first year back in Charleston. The fireworks were at Patriot’s Point and not only did we happen to live just up the road but we had friends visiting from up North so we didn’t have to go see them alone. We drove to the end of the street in Steve’s Jeep and sat in our camping chairs and inside the car and watched the fireworks from afar, with no musical accompaniment, just our laughter and chatter overshadowing the faint booms and pops in the distance.

There was the year we had friends in town and had been day drinking so we were in no shape to drive anywhere, because that’s what vacation is all about. So we shot off the arsenal of fireworks in my cul-de-sac that they had brought from South of the Border just because we could. The neighbors had fireworks of their own so we had a mini block party and all of us were content with letting the rain wash away the remnants the next morning.

Last year we had been out all day and didn’t have any plans of going near the big fireworks celebration (seeing a pattern – in our household, we’re not too keen on large crowds) but at the last minute, we thought maybe we’d try because who doesn’t see fireworks on the Fourth. That was how we ended up at the county park on the beach, just sitting on the benches people-watching and having a good time with friends while we watched the fireworks explode over the water.

No matter where I’ve been or who I’ve been with, the Fourth has always been one of my favorite holidays simply because it brings people together without any other premise than sharing some cold drinks and food and watching things explode in the sky. There’s no pressure for presents or a huge meal or people to get along. There’s just you, the people you love and other people you don’t know who love the same thing as you – picnics, blankets, the company of friends and dusky summer evenings and pretty lights that go boom in the sky.

To all of my American readers out there, here’s wishing a happy and safe Independence Day!  (To everyone else – well, hope you have a Happy Fourth of July!) Eat some good food, have some fruity summery drinks, feel the summer breeze on your skin and the tickle of grass on your feet and try not to blow anything up with fireworks. And take a moment to remember the reason we celebrate this holiday and think of those who have sacrificed so we can continue to celebrate it.

I hope you have the same pleasure as I do of looking back on the memories of this day and the joy of making more year after year.

Godspeed and God Bless the USA!

Oh … and ‘MURICA, FUCK YEA! (Sorry, my hillbilly side couldn’t resist!)

Featured image is all over Google images and I can’t find the original source.

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