The American Girl

The Inspired Life

I love fireworks. The brilliant colors shooting through the sky are dazzling visions of art to my wondrous eye. I have no sense of the science behind how little sticks of dynamite can be transformed into various shapes and patterns and swirls of glitter, sparkle and light. I don’t want to know either. I am a true believer in the magic of it all. I ooh and ah and clap my hands and pick my favorite ones right along side all of the other children spread out on the Fourth of July blanket. Because I’m one of them. At the Fourth of July Fireworks, I am transformed by the fairy of lights back to the magic and wonder of it all. It brings out the little girl in me.

The first fireworks I can remember were in my childhood town of Akron, Ohio. I must have been just out of kindergarten and recall being very excited that my mother was packing a wicker picnic basket for us to take to the big park up on the hill. In my mother’s world, and now my own, important occasions are celebrated with tasty morsels of food and I remember that particular fireworks all these years later as cold fried chicken, her very own potato salad recipe, baked beans and watermelon. Icy cold lemonade that she squeezed herself was poured out of a red jug into tiny paper cups that were empty too fast. I can recall even the blanket as being a worn-down yellow quilt, faded with age. Funny how even the scent of it lingers, the picnic blanket, smelling like a mixture of clover and cut grass.

We had a red racer wagon, a wagon I have no memories of ever riding in. I do remember that wagon being piled with the basket and the blanket and the red lemonade jug and being pulled up that hill to the fireworks display and the Fourth of July picnic. My mother pulled the wagon, my father way up ahead, my sister and I wanting to take our turns at pulling and being dismayed that it was too heavy. My brother, too little to be any help at all, was jumping in and out of the wagon alternating between walking and catching a ride.

I remember the blanket being spread out, the feast being set, the plates filled. I remember the excitement of anticipation, the food going down, and the darkness setting in.

The first whiz screaming though the dark and then a blast of color filling the night air. I was enchanted. Breathless. A love affair born.

A band began to play Oh beautiful, for spacious skies, For amber waves of grain, For purple mountains…

The words filled me up with my first taste of American pride as reds and golds, blues and orange continued to light up the evening sky. I held a tiny flag in my little girl hand and caught a glimpse of what the day was all about. I thought I would burst from the thrill of being an American Girl.

It’s never been quite the same. But I carry a piece of that first memory with me every time I watch fireworks splash across the sky. Every time I think of the Fourth of July.  It was my first truly inspired patriotic moment.  And it’s never worn off.

Spending as much time as I do in a blogging and writing community, I live now in an international world just as much as an American world. I am meeting and making friends in different countries, learning new customs, finding out about new holidays and ways of doing things that I had no idea about even a year ago. I am not always proud of our country’s policies, politicians or choices, but I’m proud of us. I’m proud of our people as a whole. I’m proud of our men and women in the service and it seems like a good day to say thank you to them, and to say Happy Fourth of July, America.

You are still beautiful.


8 thoughts on “The American Girl

  1. That was a beautiful post! It reminds me of our 4th of July tradition and all the regulars we see and how the children have grown and now have their own children. All the ooh’s & aah’s make it worth it all!


  2. Thank you for this great post. I still enjouy good fireworks and always will.
    I also thank you for the video posting.God Bless you and yours. Big Time hugs as well.That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.

  3. Hi Wendi,

    Like you, I feel like a kid again when I watch the fireworks. They are an awesome and wondrous way to end the day of celebration.

    Happy 4th of July to you and yours.

  4. Hi Wendi,

    Thanks for your story.

    I turned into more of a patriot when I lived in England for awhile. Then I realized I was an American. I like being an American. I like our freedom of speech.

    Hope you have a great Fourth of July. We had our picnic last night, so tonight will probably be quiet. Right!

  5. I remember watching fireworks with my family in the racetrack down the road from out house in Exeter in the UK, i remember feeling extra little as I looked up from the crowd of people taller than me into the sky…..

  6. I like the way you Americans are proud of your country. Like that U-Tube Video with Ray Charles singing in the back ground. That song just kicks ass! makes ME proud…and it’s not even my country. 🙂

    Not to mention monuments like Mount Rushmore, the Lincoln Memorial, the Smithsonian, etc. …they’re awe-inspiring. Look at all that energy and work that went into producing something for all the generations to see and get inspired by.

    We don’t have such things in Canada. Nothing is sacred, we’ve started modifying our cultural icons to accomodate everyone and their dog. In some ways, we almost apologize for feeling patriotic, like it’s a bad thing.

    I love the States. Sure it’s not perfect (but heck, who is?). There are a lot of good things about your country. In many ways, I wish we could be more like you guys.

    Happy Fourth!

  7. “I am not always proud of our country’s policies, politicians or choices, but I’m proud of us.”

    I share the same sentiment. Thanks for sharing some wonderful memories.

  8. Couldn’t have said it any better myself! Fireworks always remind me of Disneyland. We went there a lot when I was a child and though I don’t remember my first trip, I do know it was during America’s bicentennial, which is pretty cool. Anyway, I’m not sure if they still do it, but they used to shoot off fireworks every night right before Tinkerbell flew from the Matterhorn to Sleeping Beauty’s castle. Ah, the memories!

    Happy belated 4th!

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