However, there was a fly in the ointment. I was just a couple of blocks from Bradley Square Mall, so the fireworks show sounded like Pearl Harbor on Dec. 7, 1941.
After spending a few hours at the office that morning, my baby daughter Faith (soon to be 20 years old) called and woke me from a late-morning doze at my parents’ house to see what I was doing.
I’d like to say she was wanting to spend some quality time with her dear old dad, but the reality was she had the day off work, but her boyfriend didn’t. She was bored.
She suggested I come pick her up and we get her siblings to go do something.
Since it was almost noon, I figured she was hungry and didn’t have money to buy her own lunch.
She got hold of her brother Kevin, waking him up also, and told him to get ready.
She found out sister Haley was at work until 3.
As we were leaving the house, we ran into her oldest brother Bobby (he prefers to be called Robert, but I can’t make myself do that), but he had just eaten and was busy getting things ready to move into a new apartment this weekend.
My other daughter, Mary Beth, lives in Clarksville, so we decided not to wait on her to make the four-hour drive to join us.
So Faith, Kevin and I did the usual, “where do you want to eat? I don’t care. Where do you want to eat?” game.
Being the celebration day of the creation of our great nation, we decided on one of our favorite restaurants — La Altena (yep, the irony of eating Mexican food on the Fourth of July didn’t dawn on us until halfway through the meal).
After our meal, we went back to the house, watched some TV and waited until Haley got off work.
The girls spent an hour or so getting ready for their evening fun and when Haley left, Faith was ready to go as well. But I told her we had to wait until Judge Judy gave her verdict on the final case.
Having told my parents I’d be back to their house by supper, I rushed to drop Faith off and stop by the store for milk.
Although it was about an hour after my parents’ normal 4:30 eating time when I put the milk in the fridge, I saw the bag with the barbecue, potato salad and cole slaw I had brought them from a trailer/porch walk-up place near Lake Nottely, Ga., the evening before still on the top shelf.
Dad was asleep on the back porch, and mom was napping in the living room, so I ducked back out to grab me something so I could eat supper with them.
Rushing to Sonic for a couple of good old American hot dogs (on Italian cheesy bread), I hurried back home to find them still asleep.
Mom stirred as I put my food on the table and proceeded to tell me how good the barbecue and fixings were. The slaw was a lot like she used to make.
She said they’d eaten earlier. What was in the bag was the leftovers.
After watching the news, “Wheel of Fortune” and “Jeopardy,” my 90-year-old mom went to bed (as she does evey night at that time).
Since he had taken a nap after supper, my 87-year-old dad stayed up until 9 o’clock to watch “Shark Tank” with me, but he was asleep before the sun finished going down.
With my parents tucked away for the night (or at least until one of their many nature runs), I was settled on the couch flipping through the dozen channels they get when all of a sudden it sounded like lightning struck in the back yard.
I jumped to my feet and raced to the patio door as the barrage got into full swing.
When I realized the mall’s fireworks show was just over hill, I checked on mom and dad to make sure they weren’t startled. Both were snoring.
I went back to the patio and even though I hadn’t planned on watching, I had a perfect view as the sky lit up with the many colors and designs.
I’ve always liked fireworks displays, dating back to my younger days when we’d go to the Village Shopping Center for the shows and later at the old Cleveland Mall.
I always tried to take our kids to the local shows wherever we lived as they grew up.
A decade or so ago, I even watched with my parents from out in the middle of Laurel Drive as the neighbors would gather in the street for the display.
Since being back in town, I’ve seen the fireworks shows at Tri-State Fairgrounds and out on Hwy. 64 a few times.
Standing alone on the dark screened-in porch Friday evening, hearing the distinct booms and shush just before the brilliant colors exploded, I thought back on the many times I had shared the experience with family and friends.
I also thanked the Lord for allowing me to be born and live in such a free, great nation.
Even though there are many things we find to complain about, the U.S.A. is still the best country in the world as far as I’m concerned.
If you want a second opinion, just watch the news and the horrific acts of war happening in other countries on a daily basis. No wonder so many people are trying to immigrate here, legally or illegally.
Our nation isn’t perfect (because they won’t let me and my dad run it), but it is a place where our lives aren’t threatened on a daily basis for our opinions or beliefs.
Part of the great freedom we celebrated this week is the freedom to disagree but still coexist.
I have friends I value very much, but I don’t agree with their political or religious views.
Just because I’m right and they’re wrong doesn’t mean we can’t enjoy a meal together (yes, I’m speaking of Alabama Crimson Tide fan Bill Gotschall who is part of our Tuesday lunch gang at Pokeys).
Each time another person is born or immigrates to our country, a new view point is incorporated into who we are.
Tolerance, patience and realizing we haven’t walked a mile in other people’s shoes should be a part of our make up.
Make no mistake — there are some bad people in this world. Very bad. But not everyone who is not like you is evil and out to harm you.
Don’t be naive, but don’t be judgmental as well.
A great example of what I am trying to say played out this past month.
While soccer may be considered “the world’s most popular sport” elsewhere, that’s not true in the U.S. (i.e., see NFL and college football).
However, millions of Americans tuned in to watch the World Cup games in Brazil, with numbers far exceeding the NBA Championships, World Series and, dare I say it, even NASCAR ratings.
Was it because our team was so great and expected to win the championship?
In fact, even our coach said before the tournament began, we wouldn’t win.
What brought hundreds of thousands of people to sports stadiums across the country to watch the matches on Jumbotrons was the fact these young men, from varied backgrounds, races and religions, represent us — the U.S.A.
They worked together bravely and against astronomical odds to let the world know we are among the best.
Even in the agony of defeat, our heads were held high, and our opponents praised the effort our team gave.
When I see the fireworks on the 4th and the thousands of people gathered to celebrate, I think back to the brave men and women, who came from many different lands, beliefs and backgrounds summed up the Declaration of Independence on July 4, 1776, by saying:
"... as Free and Independent States, they have full Power to levy War, conclude Peace, contract Alliances, establish Commerce, and to do all other Acts and Things which Independent States may of right do. And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes and our sacred Honor."
Now more than ever let us pray, God Bless America!