Composer Boris Fomin wrote, “Those were the days my friend, I thought they’d never end – I’d play and play forever and a day – for I was young and sure to have my way.”
And when I reached the ripe old age of 10, I knew that July Fourth was one of those days – a special and wonderful day, because I knew that it was our country’s Independence Day.
I also knew that to help celebrate that special day, my hometown of Washington, D.C., would put on a parade with more bands, fife and drum corps, special giant balloons and drill teams than any other city.
And, can you imagine, I can still remember the president of the United States, Franklin D. Roosevelt, waving to me as he rode in the parade on his way to the White House.
Growing up in our nation’s capital offered a kid like me unlimited excitement on July Fourth, because in addition to the day’s parade, hundreds of us with our parents would show up at the Washington Monument to witness the evening festivities.
After Washington’s National Symphony Orchestra finished its concert of popular music – thankfully, they replaced symphony music that night with popular songs just so a kid like me wouldn’t fall asleep – we witnessed one of the country’s largest and most beautiful display of fireworks.
The best thing was the afternoon hours between the parade and the evening’s professional fireworks. That was our time to explode our own firecrackers – our own “bombs.”
Yes – in those long-ago days, government could not and did not tell you what you could do and could not do – only your parents had that obligation.
In our neighborhood, all of us boys would get together on the street with our fireworks and our parents’ advice of “Be Careful!”
Careful – we were in the way we would place our firecracker bombs in cans – light the fuse and run, run, run away. Our big brothers would place their bombs under sewer tops and wow, those really were the days – but they did end.
What has not ended was John Adams’ prediction 238 years ago in his July 3, 1776, letter to his wife, when he wrote, “The day will be most memorable in the history of America. I am apt to believe that it will be celebrated by succeeding generations as the great anniversary festival. It ought to be solemnized with pomp and parade, bonfires and illuminations (fireworks) from one end of this continent to the other from this time forward forevermore.”
Although 79 of my years have passed since I first exploded “toy fire bombs” and 69 years have hurried by since I used real ones in World War II, I still enjoy the Fourth of July, because it is still the “DAY.”
Even though times have changed, there are still fireworks and parades and although today’s parades fail to have the zip, boom and hurrahs that I remember so many, many years ago – they still allow me to see and enjoy them through my grandchildren’s eyes.
And – even though explosive fireworks, fortunately, are no longer allowed to be used by a 10-year-old, I and my grandchildren can still enjoy watching their “sparkles” light up and “uh hing and ah hing” at today’s magnificent professional fireworks at night.
YES – July Fourth is still a wonderful special “DAY” to celebrate our country’s independence. What has changed is that today, the entire world should have joined with us in celebrating our freedom, because we are now the last best hope of mankind for preserving freedom…
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