Thursday, July 4, 2013

An Independence Day Remembered

eagle, independence day

“You have to love a nation that celebrates its independence every July 4, not with a parade of guns, tanks, and soldiers who file by the White House in a show of strength and muscle, but with family picnics where kids throw Frisbees, the potato salad gets iffy, and the flies die from happiness. You may think you have overeaten, but it is patriotism.” - Erma Bombeck

Every year in celebration of America's independence, my family always pauses to  thank those who came before us and sacrificed life, limb, and even their own family's safety, in order for us to live freely and to pursue our own dreams.

This celebration almost always consists of bbq, my grandmother's potato salad and deviled egg recipes, baked beans, corn on the cob, and watermelon.  And to finish off the food-fest is homemade ice cream, apple pie, and Texas sheet cake.

As part of our celebration, we always have sparklers to play with.  What would July 4th be without handing our children a 3,000°F fire on the end of the stick and telling them to be careful and not burn themselves after having just taught them not to play with matches or fire.

After the sparklers comes the grown-up's turn to play.  Over the years we've had a few minor mishaps with fireworks which have resulted in us making sure we have a garden hose close by.  We've misjudged how far the firework will shoot and have had to chase a few down.  We've also had to hose down our roof from where our neighbors have misjudged their firework's shooting distance.

But the ultimate year of firework madness came just a few years ago.  A neighbor had travelled to a bordering state and picked up some real fireworks while my husband picked up the kid-friendly ones.  All of the neighbors were standing outside ready for the show we were going to put on.  The neighbor and my husband had made some great finds!  Some shot way up in the air and exploded in a blaze of colorful glory.  Others whirled and zipped around so fast your eyes couldn't make out where the actual firework was.  They had others that sent out little spinning shooters across the ground in every direction and turned different colors.  And the kids loved the firecrackers that exploded when they threw them down on the concrete.

But like any grand finale, they saved the best for last.  They had picked up some rockets.  I moved my children and our neighbor's children into our garage thinking it would be the perfect place to protect everyone but still have a bird's eye view of the show.  My car was in the garage, so if the kids got scared, they could hop in it and look through the windows.  Another Mom decided that was a good, safe place to stand, so the 2 of us stood in the garage with the kids.

The men had to figure out which end was the shooting end of the rocket since it didn't have an arrow pointing "this end up".  They positioned it on our driveway so the fireworks weren't going toward anyone's house and would shoot directly into the center of the street.  With excitement that positively crackled in the air, they lit the rocket launcher's wick. 

The first rocket exploded out of the launcher's canon with lightning speed ........... and went straight into our garage.  "Oh cr*p!" my neighbor said, "those idiots turned the rocket launcher the wrong way!".  The rocket was launching fire balls in rapid succession at all of us in the garage!  We were having to jump as high as we could in the air to avoid getting hit in the legs and shins!

The kids in the garage were standing there screaming as we grabbed them by the arms and flung them bodily out of the garage while hopping over rockets.  My husband and the neighbor had to time grabbing the launcher perfectly in order to flip it around and not have one of the rockets launch directly into themselves, or any of the neighbor's windows, or, heaven forbid, the groups of people standing around. 

Luckily, nothing caught on fire from the fireballs exploding in the garage and no one was injured during the incident.  I can't say that 2 men didn't get a verbal beating when the rocket finally quit firing and we were able to regain our breath. 

Every time I hear our national anthem played and they get to "the rockets' red glare, the bombs bursting in air", it reminds me of having to jump the rockets.  We decided after this experience that we should invite the local fire department to our party every year.  We could feed them some bbq and play some yard games........... before they have to rescue us or put out whatever fire we inevitably start.

by: Christie Bielss

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