The Fourth of July was right up there with Halloween and Christmas, for me at least, during my youth.
A day to blow things up? Throw smoke bombs in the street? Shoot Roman candles at your friends and put fireworks into various cracks and crevices to see the result?
For many kids of the 1970s and 80s, the Fourth of July came and went each year without incident. Sure, we would roll the dice by tossing Black Cats at each other and probably stand a little too close to the “flaming balls with report” as they prepared to pepper the sky at dusk.
But, mostly, we were unscathed.
Of course, we were largely unaware of what we were celebrating, too.
I wouldn’t go so far as to say the true meaning of the Fourth of July was lost on us. Sure, most of us had dads, uncles, grandfathers or other family members that served in the military.
But, much like Christmas, the true meaning of that day certainly gets a little lost in picnics, eating, shooting off fireworks and other activities.
A few years ago, though, I realized what the Fourth of July could mean as a new father.
I was sitting with some family and friends, throwing washers and surrounded by the smoke of the grill and some random fireworks. We were gathered a group, discussing life, work, kids, dinner – all of the above.
Someone mentioned remembering our troops on this holiday. And we did. Someone else mentioned the various conflicts were involved in around the globe. And we, of course, opined on that as well.
Amidst the talk, I realized this holiday was serving one of its purposes – to bring family and friends together. Not necessarily to explode $100 worth of stuff we bought at a tent, but to share what is important to us as a unit, celebrate the little ones’ first experiences in the holiday and remember those family members from long ago and from today that served and continue to serve our country.
The Fourth of July, I believe, still has meaning to the younger generation.
But it is our responsibility to continue to remind them not only how significant this holiday is to our country, but why it’s important.
John Beaudoin is the publisher of the Lee’s Summit Journal. To comment, call 816-282-7001 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.