On the 4th of July, my sisters and I inevitably woke to the sound of popping fire crackers. A quick peek out the window revealed our father in action. He crouched low, put match to wick and ran, hugely amused with himself. It was his day and our day, and I suspect my mother loved it that way. Some years we went to my uncle’s farm for an afternoon picnic. A wagon was hitched to the tractor and we piled in, lugging a charcoal grill, hot dogs, potato salad, and baked beans slow cooked in molasses and brown sugar. We enjoyed a bumpy ride over uneven pasture land to some scenic spot my uncle had selected, leaving semi-interested cows in our wake.
In the evening, Dad took us to a local fire-works display, hosted each year by the volunteer fire department. The firemen raised money by selling such things as cotton candy, peanuts in the shell, and green pepper and sausage sandwiches. We pitched pennies at white china dishes and enjoyed numerous games of ring toss, then spread blankets on a nearby hillside for a great view of the fireworks.
We grew up small town, Middle America and were taught to love our country. My parents, who lived through the great depression and subsequent war years, understood the privilege (and fragility) of liberty.