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.