Thursday, July 05, 2007

The Fourth of July & Fireworks

During Henry's working years, we often chose to travel during the fourth of July holiday so we could have a longer vacation. I found that I enjoyed seeing fireworks in the various places we happened to be. So this year, I wanted to be settled somewhere to watch the fireworks. We chose Taos. When I checked into the RV park, the guy told me to bring my lawn chair over and join the group that would be watching them from the park. I did that, but there wasn't a large group. There was a teenage boy who described how he usually does his own fireworks - I ended up telling him he should be a pyro-technician (I think that's what the name is for the professionals who do fireworks.)

As I watched the fireworks, several thoughts went through my head. The fireworks are a celebration of our country's independence. We are a diverse nation where people from many nationalities live together. Just as humans do, our nation has its times of ups and downs. We are a nation of humans, so we are imperfect. Sometimes our national policies make me proud, other times they give me grief. But even today, there is much to be proud of. Americans are among the first to go in and help when another country has a disaster. Americans have long set aside areas of national parks, national forests, and national wildlife refuges to preserve our natural heritage. We've set up a social structure to try to help people who are in need. While it may be flawed, it does provide a safety net for people whose circumstances create difficulites. While we've made many mistakes in Iraq, one of our goals has been to help rebuild what the war destroyed in their country. Because we are imperfect humans, we will always have problems and issues. But I'm still proud to be an American. I appreciate living in a country where we can vote for people who will decide our nations policies. I appreciate the freedom we have - freedom to worship, freedom to speak our minds about our politicians, freedom to choose our careers, freedom to travel throughout our country, freedom to travel outside our country.

I think it is important for everyone to be proud of their country. July 4th gives Americans an opportunity to be grateful and celebrate their country. We saw part of the parade in Silverton. We've seen the parade at Breckenridge. We saw many cars, jeeps, and 4-wheelers flying American flags to celebrate this holiday. But I've also been blessed to have been in France twice on Bastille Day. The celebration at the Eiffel Tower was impressive. Not only were there fireworks, but there was music and a wonderful presentation on French history. We were at the Valley of the Volcanoes the first time we were there on Bastille Day. We could look across the broad valley and see the fireworks from so many small towns from our hotel that overlooked the valley. Living in Texas, we celebrate Cinco de Maya which is an important day in the history of Mexico. While not all governments are great and praiseworthy, I still think that we should be respectful of the people in all the countries of the world.

Memories of other fireworks surfaced as I watched the beautiful ones in Taos. One year I watched the fireworks in Malibu from a private beach. In Malibu they set up a series of barges along the coastline and people gather on the beaches to watch the fireworks and their reflections in the water. In Austin, the fireworks are accompanied by an orchestra concert held on the shores of Town Lake. In Breckenridge, there is a music event and then fireworks that light up the mountains. We've watched fireworks from the porch of a hotel in Dillon, a campground in Montana, a small town in Arizona as we drove down the road, the beach in San Diego . . . lots of fouth of July memories.

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