July 04, 2006

HAPPY BIRFDAY, AMERICA


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Fourth of July is kind of a big deal in our neighborhood. (No, that's not my neighborhood in the photo above. It's just a random car I photographed.)

The holiday has been an event for about three years now, ever since we started having block party picnics and fireworks fests. Not always with safe results.

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The most elaborate took place two years ago, when my neighbors Drew and Mike and their families were still in the neighborhood. Drew was really the catalyst for getting everyone together the year before. In 2004, though, we really took it to another level. Injured offspring. Petrified pets. Roman Candle duels at 50 paces. Ritual sacrifice. You name it.

Last year, Drew and Mike and their families moved away right before Fourth of July. We had great fun with our new neighbors, but I failed to recognize the holes that I had to fill. I underbought on pyrotechnics and it lacked a certain life-threatening quality. I felt like I let my new neighbors down.

As I wrote earlier, that won't be the situation this year. We've pooled our resources and gone for more bang instead of flash.

But we'll still miss our friends and wish them all the best. We wouldn't be having the steroid-choked, beer-soaked grillfest sit-out we're planning today (predicted possible typhoon-like weather notwithstanding) if it wasn't for you guys. Every fuse we light will be in your honor.

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I've had some memorable Fourths in my life. I remember growing up in Pass-a-Grille, I could sit on the sand in St. Pete Beach and watch the fireworks in the distance up the beaches in Treasure Island and Clearwater.

I remember one year when I was about 7 or 8, my dad took me by himself to sit next to the Corey Causeway between South Pasadena and St. Pete Beach to sit on the St. Augustine grass in front of Misner Marine to see the fireworks launched behind city hall. My mom was in the hospital with debilitating migraines that year. I'll always remember how much I missed her being there.

I remember the year we took the family boat from Gulfport to downtown St. Petersburg at dusk to anchor off the seawall as fireworks went off above our head. It seemed like every other boater was loaded that night. There were so many boats that people kept running over each other's anchor line and cursing each other. But what I remember is the way the old Skyway Bridge looked as we went under the center span at night on our way back to the marina as my father searched for channel markers with his spotlight.

I remember the Fourth of July I spent in Anchorage three weeks before I flew home to get married. The big deal back then was to go to the baseball doubleheader between the summer minor league Anchorage Bucs and the Anchorage Glacier Pilots at Mulcahy Stadium. The game started at about 8 and fireworks were shot off after the game.

At about 11:30 p.m.

In broad daylight in the Land of the Midnight Sun.

I learned later that the bigtime fireworks in Anchorage happened in February during Fur Rendezvous. Who knew?

The Bucs and Glacier Pilots play a doubleheader again today. The first game is at 6 p.m. with 7 innings and the second game has 9 innings. Fireworks follow the second game.

The past couple years, I've posted some fairly stupid, corny and mushy stuff on the Fourth about the freedoms we enjoy. Or at least the ones I enjoy. I know not everyone enjoys the freedoms I swim around with every day.

This year, no better example of the freedom we enjoy is this exchange I saw this morning in my e-mail.

First was a note from my friend Scott, a reporter who covers business on Wall Street. He passed along this semi-quasi-sort-of-famous quotation to a group of his friends in an e-mail blast:

"In its main features the Declaration of Independence is a spiritual document. It is a declaration not of material but spiritual conceptions. Equality, liberty, popular sovereignty, the rights of man—these are not elements which we can see and touch. They are ideals. They have their source and their roots in religious convictions. They belong to the unseen world. Unless the faith of the American people in these religious convictions is to endure, the principles of our Declaration will perish. We cannot continue to enjoy the result if we neglect and abandon the cause. If all men are created equal, that is final. If they are endowed with inalienable rights, that is final. If governments derive their just power from the consent of the governed, that is final. No advance, no progress can be made beyond these propositions. If anyone wishes to deny their truth and their soundness, the only direction in which he can proceed historically is not forward, but backward toward the time when there was no equality, no rights of the individual, no rule of the people. Those who wish to proceed in that direction cannot lay claim to progress."
— Calvin Coolidge

To which Steve, a member of the e-mail chain, replied:

We now know why he was liked for being silent.

Steve

Hard to beat that back-and-forth for the definition of freedom.

Hope yours is as fun as ours looks to be tonight.

Cheers,

Jeff

Posted by Jeff at July 4, 2006 11:16 AM | TrackBack
Comments

Nice. Have a fabulous day!

Posted by: Cupie at July 4, 2006 08:11 PM
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