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Born in Southern California every 4th of July celebration I can remember was pretty much the same. Playing in the neighborhood all day while stopping to eat a wide variety of foods usually only available on holidays. I’m sure some type of large firework show took place but I don’t really remember them. I do remember Whistling Petes, Black Snakes, and Sparklers. The acrid smell of smoke and burnt vegetation as a Spinning Flower once bounced off a street curb and into one of our neighbor’s ivy.
That left a mark.
It wasn’t too long after that my family moved to Trinity County.
Even back then things were different.
The hub of Trinity County was and is a town called Weaverville. Those of you who’ve read Late Bird I’m sure recognize the name.
Weaverville is surrounded by little mill towns that hold anywhere from thirty to one hundred people each.
Certainly not sprawling metropolises. Probably more coyotes than people and without a doubt more snakes and scorpions.
I sometimes laugh when I hear “snakes are more scared of you than you are of them.”
They should be. We have a corpus callosum and opposable thumbs.
At least those of us who voted for Trump.
In Weaverville the 4th of July was an event because the citizens and community leaders loved the United States.
Flags and bunting decorated the town.
Red, white, and blue hats, shirts, and bandanas were found everywhere.
Veterans were shown respect because of their courage to serve, protect, and defend.
The same type of courage found more than two hundred years ago.
The courage of men and women who if caught would be hung as traitors to the Crown.
The term American back then was whispered by many as it could get you beaten, robbed, or killed by the English or those loyal to the King.
American heroes like Francis Marion known as the Swamp Fox and John Paul (I have not yet begun to fight) Jones engaged in the battle on land and sea and American legends like Nathan Hale were created when unmeasurable courage met an unbreakable noose.
In the name of the United States.
In the name of Freedom.
Fireworks are a large part of most 4th of July celebrations. Many ooh and aah at them. I have done so as well. We are gifted with their visual beauty because nothing horrific follows the streaking of light through the sky followed by a large explosion.
“And the rockets red glare, the bombs bursting in air gave proof through the night that our flag was still there.”
The flag was still there but many Americans were not and would never see the Stars and Stripes ever again because “Don’t tread on me” actually meant DON’T TREAD ON ME.
I hope each and every one of you enjoy your 4th of July celebrations.
My point of this article is to continue the knowledge, lessons, and stories that were given to me by my parents, teachers, and books.
That before we partake in the ice cream, hot dogs, and apple pie we pause for a moment or two to appreciate those who made it possible that we see fireworks as a beautiful sight because we don’t live in a war zone.
That before we run off to the lake to barbecue and swim that we say thank you to the Big Fella Upstairs for whom this nation was found under.
That before the carnivals start, the cotton candy sticks to too many little faces, that before the rockets red glare, we understand the ultimate truth.
Freedom isn’t Free.