Yesterday, the United States celebrated her 233rd birthday. My cousin celebrated his 30-something birthday, unfortunately, I don’t know exactly how old he his and today I celebrated my 41st birthday.
I remember 1976 as though it were thirty-three years ago. The preparations for the great event began in the fall of 1975. I was seven years old and things were looking pretty bright for those of us in the second grade. In music class we began the practices for the big event in the spring of 1976. Back then there were two concerts each year — Christmas and Spring. But, the Spring concert of 1976 overshadowed Christmas seven times over. It was to be the biggest celebration in the history of the entire school. By now those of you adept in math and history have figured out it was the Bi-Centennial celebration of the United States. For those of you not so adept in math and history, the Bi-Centennial means the 200th birthday of the United States. This was the year that we learned all the verses of the great American patriotic songs (one of which I totally gapped at church today, but I digress): "America the Beautiful", "She’s a Grand Ol’ Flag", "My Country Tis of Thee" among others. We practiced those songs every day for months. The upper classes sang beautiful songs of which we seven year olds never even heard. It was also the year that every child in the school — elementary and high school — were expected to know the words to the National Anthem. Memorizing all those words about the same subject in multiple songs was quite the task for us seven year olds, but by the time our music teacher was through with us we could sing those songs backwards if necessary; including the National Anthem. It was a lot of fun. This was the only year I was in school that the high school and elementary school concerts were held together on the same night. The entire high school gymnasium was filled with students, parents and family members. The entire city came together as one group celebrating the same thing — The freedoms we enjoy as citizens of this great nation. It was at this time in my life when a feeling of patriotism was instilled in me that remains today.
Today, we need to remember those who did the job that many of us could not. Many of those who went abroad did not return. Many of those who are abroad today will not return. They have and will make the ultimate sacrifice so that we may barbeque with our friends and spend time at the lakes fishing and swimming under the invisible flag that covers the skies of our nation protecting us all. Although the holiday itself was yesterday this is something we should remember every day.
I never had a real birthday party like most kids, but at the same time I felt kind of special sharing the time of my birthday with our country. We always had fireworks in celebration of the nation as well as my birthday and the birthday of my cousin. Not only did we have fireworks but we also had a parade and civic celebration. At least while I was in elementary school. It was a grand ol’ time. We always had our family reunion at the lake so there was lots of people around for me and my cousin to celebrate our birthdays.
As I got older and had kids of my own they started that ridiculous tradition of shooting off one bottle rocket for every year. Thank heavens the government has now had the good sense to out law the darn things. After last year’s forty rockets at once it makes perfect sense to me. I was wondering what they would ever do if I lived to be a hundred. I think they would just have to use some of those flowering things or something. The thought was nice anyway.
Today, I got one of the best presents ever from my best friend. A signed first edition of "The Cross and the Crown". Awesome gift that lets me know that my best friend really knows me and cares about the things that I enjoy and appreciate. So, thanks best friend. You’re the greatest.
All in all, today was a good, quiet birthday that was just right. Happy birthday to me, to my cousin and to my country. May we all have many more.