As I sit here tonight listening to "A Capitol Fourth", I have been reflecting on the 4th of July celebrations that have been part of my life.
As a child I don't remember there being quite as many big celebrations as there are now, although I certainly remember going to the East End Park in Elmhurst where we would spread a sheet or blanket on the grass and crane our necks skyward and respond to the fireworks with OOOhs and Ahhs. We may have had popcorn or an ice cream but I really don't remember.
As a young married, we usually celebrated the 4th with my husband's family since the town they lived in, Wheaton, had a parade on the 4th and Elmhurst didn't. It was an all day affair. beginning around eleven in the morning and extending until about midnight. The parade was a long one and went right past the front door. There were hot dogs, burgers, potato salad, sloppy joes, ambrosia salad. soda and beer according to taste. Food was served all day long and friends and family were welcomed. In the evening, the activity moved to the park about 3 blocks away where we spread blankets and tuned the portable radios to the stations playing patriotic music. Usually we visited with friends or played cards until it was time for the fireworks.The ground shuddered and sounds exploded with the force of the explosions. Kids cried or cheered according to their age and everyone oood and aahhd. We sang to the music on the radio because we all knew the words. At the end of the fireworks, everyone made there way out of the park and we walked back to my in-laws to claim the babies that they watched who were too small to go to the park.Sometimes we played cards for a while before packing up for the journey home.
Later we took our kids to fireworks closer to home and as scouts and band members they were always involved in a parade. Still later we watched fireworks from our pool deck while listening to the radio. Our neighbors had a display worthy of a small town in the backyard and the next day the neighborhood smelled of sulfur.
I have celebrated the 4th on the beach in Florida and on several military bases over the years. Once even in Germany but one thing they all had in common was the sense of pride in our county and the strong sense that we were all together.
It warms my heart to see that my grandchildren have followed the same path. They have grown up on military bases and their dad was in the Army Band but they have also marched in the parades celebrating Independence Day as scouts and band members. Keep the traditions going.