Traditionally, the Fourth of July is a treasured day off from work where we barbecue with friends and family, spend time by the lake or pool, and shoot off fireworks … lots and lots of fireworks. Interestingly enough, fireworks have been used to celebrate our nation’s birthday since the first year it was commemorated, with John Adams declaring that the signing of the Declaration of Independence should be a “great anniversary festival solemnized with Pomp and Parade, with Shows, Games, and Illuminations from one end of the Continent to the other from this time forward forever more.” These festivities are joyous occasions, yet we should remember that our ability to celebrate is not without sacrifice. Recently, I had the opportunity to travel to the area of Normandy, France, where our troops and others stormed the beaches on D-day so many years ago. Standing in the American Cemetery just off Omaha Beach, I gazed upon a vast number of grave markers indicating the names of our fallen. These men never looked upon their native soil again, many having no children or grandchildren to speak of their service and sacrifice. My paternal grandfather was in the fourth wave of soldiers that rushed upon the beaches that fateful day. Pushing forward with his engineering battalion, they lay bridges for the tanks and various equipment to press further into France and beyond. He went on to fight in the notorious Battle of the Bulge, laying thousands of mines that would stop the enemy tanks from pressing forward into Allied territory. Once in Germany, he came upon an enemy machine gunner by surprise and was shot up the entire left side of his body. His wounds kept him from moving on, and he was eventually sent home before the war ended. My grandfather’s constant limp was a reminder that many of those who returned home were different versions of themselves. Their sacrifices, and many others since then, have come in all shapes and sizes. Happy Birthday, America. Thank you to those who have loved us well through more than we can imagine.
And just as a side note for next year when you are taking John Adams advice and celebrating with your variety of fireworks, make sure your eight year old has on shoes so that she does not tinge her toe from stepping on a used sparker, and maybe caution your four year old a bit more that one does not grab a sparkler at the tip when it has just died out. You would not want your night ending with a few tears from tender appendages. Some free advice from me to you! 🙂
Hope you enjoyed your holiday!
Fireworks information was taken from:
US News and World Report
July 3, 2013 written by Tierney Sneed