Usually on the Fourth of July you’ll find me relaxing at a luxurious condo in Florida. Perhaps I’ll be wading in a clear aqua sea as warm as bathwater or deliciously languishing beneath the sun on powdery white sand. You might find me parked under a poolside umbrella, stretched out on a lounger with a new book in hand, taking long sips from a tall, icy beverage.
If I’m not parked horizontally somewhere, I’ll be splashing in the pool with my husband and my kids while responding with applause and laughter to a thousand requests of, “Watch me, Mom!”
My only responsibilities—besides making sure that none of my offspring drown—are to ensure that our dinner makes it to the grill on time and keeping everyone slathered with enough sunscreen.
Truly, it’s a tough life, but somebody has to live it.
These precious few days of freedom are the cherry on top of my year and I’m truly grateful to my parents for organizing our summertime family reunions. I cannot tell you how much we look forward to it.
Not only is it great to be with extended family for a few days, there’s something special about celebrating our country’s independence by freeing ourselves from the ordinary burdens of life at home.
We’re a military family—my husband retired a few years ago after serving twenty combined years in the Navy and the Army National Guard. So it’s particularly heartwarming to us when we see patriotic decorations popping up around Memorial Day and remaining in place through the Fourth of July.
I think that people expect to see the Stars and Stripes openly displayed in our corner of east metro Atlanta. This is an area rich with traditional values, where everybody seems to know a favorite soldier or sailor. But it’s particularly nice when you travel and see that other towns in other states appear just as patriotic.
I don’t know about you, but in this election year filled with ever-increasing political strife, seeing so much red, white and blue is a nice reminder that we are all still united under one flag.
I know that the relaxation we enjoy on holidays is part of what our forefathers fought for and what our soldiers continue to fight for today. I don’t want to ever forget that, nor allow my children to take it for granted.
Several years ago, one of my favorite July 4th celebrations ended on the beach. The sky was midnight blue, the horizon dotted with tiny sparks of red and yellow shining from distant ships. Moonlit foam crashed ashore, then the sea receded, the foam dissolving as a new wave chased it from behind. That enchanting ebb and flow is a beautiful visualization of what happens to my mind while I am on vacation. Waves of peace slowly wash away the clutter of everyday life, and carry all my worries out to the deep, dark sea.
That peaceful July night, I watched my children dance on the shore, their faces glowing in the light of their sparklers. When fireworks boomed overhead, I recalled other beaches, like Normandy, where louder explosions on much darker nights secured our right to play free. And when my sweet kids collapsed into laughter so deep, they could no longer stand, I remembered those who fall, even now, into hot, dry sand for the sake of liberty.