Hunter: I love Independence Day

I love Independence Day, or What I Did Past Summers

By Hunter Ford
Most people have favorite holidays. For some it is Christmas, for others Thanksgiving or Easter. For me, give me Independence Day. More often referred to as The Fourth of July, Independence Day means many things to me.

I love American history, especially the romanticized version we all learned in grade school. Thomas Jefferson, who was the principle author of the Declaration of Independence, is the person most associated with the Declaration, although, formally, a committee wrote it.

Congress actually passed a resolution approving the split with England on July 2, 1776, and John Adams, one of our Founding Fathers wrote to his wife Abigail, predicting a long-standing tradition of celebrations for the second of July:

“The second day of July, 1776, will be the most memorable epoch in the history of America. I am apt to believe that it will be celebrated by succeeding generations as the great anniversary festival. It ought to be commemorated as the day of deliverance, by solemn acts of devotion to God Almighty. It ought to be solemnized with pomp and parade, with shows, games, sports, guns, bells, bonfires, and illuminations, from one end of this continent to the other, from this time forward forever more.”

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It doesn’t matter that Mr. Adams was off a couple of days in his prophecy. It also doesn’t matter that the actual signing was not completed by all of the Founding Fathers until August. The Fourth of July, the date Congress approved the Declaration, is our longest standing American holiday, and the one holiday that is, in my opinion, purely American, free from religious dogma and, mostly unspoiled by commercialism.

From time to time, I enjoy revisiting the Declaration, for it is truly a work of literary art.

“We hold these truths to be self evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain…” Quick question, do you remember if it is inalienable rights or unalienable rights? Are you smarter than a fifth grader? Look it up if you don’t know. Did you know that many people confuse the Declaration with the U.S. Constitution? But I digress.

Ah! Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness!

I love Independence Day because it conjures so many pleasant memories of past summers spent with my family.

In my youth, I spent many Fourths of July on Guntersville Lake, where I learned to swim, water ski and enjoy the simple carefree pleasures of hot summer days and humid summer nights.

Some of my favorite summer memories involved the torture of small creatures.

On our family get-togethers, there were always numerous cousins. We would go around collecting June bugs. These seasonal beetles have surprisingly strong legs. We would tie kite string to the insects’ legs and watch them fly around in circles until they wore out or we got bored with them and hurled them into the woods.

We would then turn our attention to catching lightning bugs (fireflies if you prefer). The lucky critters were put into a jar with a few sticks and leaves. The unlucky ones were smushed between our fingers so that we might study their magical fluorescent goo.

We also had bottle rocket fights, and I’m surprised nobody lost an eye or another vital body part.

Some of us would have toy rifles that were perfect for jamming a bottle rocket into. Others fashioned something out of a piece of pipe or plastic tubing. Geez! Where were our parents?

Independence Day always brings back these memories, but the aforementioned activities usually occurred all summer long.

Those were days when we could ride our bikes throughout the neighborhood, all day long, with no fear. Our parents didn’t want us in the house and we didn’t want to be there. There was no all day cartoon network, no home computers or Internet, and video games hadn’t evolved enough to hold our interest. Remember Pong? Blip! Blip!

When we got thirsty we could go into any neighbors yard and drink from a hosepipe. There is no better refreshment in the world for a 10-year-old adventurer than a gushing stream of cool water with the slight hint of plastic and metal. You had to let it run for a few seconds however. Do you remember getting that initial blast of scalding water from a hose that had been sitting in the sun all day? Or you might get a mouthful of dust and cobwebs from one that hadn’t been used in awhile.

Oh, to have that Liberty once again…free from gas prices, and food costs and all the other worries of adulthood.

Other holidays are nice, but give me Independence Day or…well, just give me Independence Day! God Bless America!