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What the Fourth Means to You

Patriotic Reflections

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WHAT JULY 4TH MEANS TO YOU

America's Birthday Party

Reflecting on the history and deeper meaning of the Fourth of July is important and it's also fun to remember the wonderful ways our nation celebrates.  Many of you wrote about the personal, hometown or family celebrations that are dear to your hearts.  Thank you for allowing us to share some of your responses here.

From:  Julie Batie, Washington, DC

The Fourth of July for me has always been a celebration that involved family. No matter where my family was, we were always together on Independence Day. However, this is my first year without my parents being by my side. I'm just so thankful that I'm getting to spend my Fourth of July in our Nation's Capitol for the first time as well. This year I will truly appreciate the freedoms that I have enjoyed for so many years while lighting off fireworks as a kid.


From:  Doc Reitzel, Currently living in Managua, Nicaragua

Stands and stands of fireworks, one on every corner; Children waving sparklers back and forth; Fireworks exploding into tiny fragments of red, white and blue light; The local high school band playing patriotic songs while winding its way through the streets in the annual parade; Barbecued hot dogs topped with lots of pickle relish or dripping with sauerkraut...or maybe both... These are the images that I have of the 4th of July in the United States, a country celebrating its birth as a nation based on the principles of freedom and fairness. I am proud when I say that I am from the United States.


From:  Ron Zimmer, Nebraska

With all the difficulties our country faces, this Fourth of July celebration raises hope in the future. Thank you for a wonderful celebration.


From:  Gwen, Arizona

I so enjoyed the program shown from our nations' Capital on the Fourth of July. Being disabled I am unable to attend many of the local celebrations honoring our country and our freedoms. I am so grateful to live in America - so thankful for all that we stand for throughout the world - so grateful for all those who have and still are sacrificing so much that we may be free. Thank you for the opportunity to share in our nations' celebration.


Form:  Alana, Arizona

I will be 10 and I share my birthday with Malia Obama and our country which is an honor and really cool. I feel that my birthday is a good part of history because it is the day of the Declaration of Independence when we held our head high. What I like about my country are the creative artists and writers who make a piece of work that when your finished you have a good feeling inside. Happy Birthday Malia and America.


From:  Marion B. Snyder

Forty six years ago we fell in love with the possibility of a summer home, saw great new architecture of Bruce Campbell Graham, spoke with Dan Anderson, owner of the land..went to see the land..right then and there..chose the house,the plot and then on that 4th of July..house built..we all crossed the threshold together( old Scottish custom for happiness) one foot of all over and sang "Four Cheers for the Red, White and Blue.." Many years of beach life, happy easy days of safe and good times..called the house "Four Cheers"..for Scott, Sarah, Susan and Stuart. What a thrill for our family. Children all wore the colors of our nation and hold in their heart their country and home. Now we still own it and resized it for all of us two years ago...While we moved here and there..it was and is our "home".


From:  James Erdmanczyk – Registered Voter, Georgia

Capitol Fourth reminds me of the time when Dairy Queen would drive their Cushman three wheeler among each neighborhood serving sundries. Second, getting to learn about what veterans represented when attending Cub Scout and Boy Scout meetings. Three, standing next to friends and family to buy a Cotton Candy and then watch the fire works among a crowd of people proud to be standing next to their fathers and grandfathers that had returned from the nations wars and celebrating liberty with them under the exciting fire works lighting up the star light sky. Fourth, seeing all those musicians that had taken time from their professional jobs to get together and tune in regularly to play patriotic songs for the public at the open theater. Fifth, I had been putting in time practicing scales on my keyboard and each time I do my neighbors find a new respect for all those musicians that put their philosophy to play John Phillips Sousa and other patriotic music for the community.


From:  Ian Sampson, California

What does the Fourth of July mean to me? It means a lot to me. I enjoy celebrating the day that honors America's independence by being with my family and friends, attending the community parade, sometimes attending a baseball game, and then capping off the day by watching the fireworks.


From:  Jennifer Quinn, stationed in South Korea

The 4th of July means a lot to me. As a US soldier currently stationed in South Korea, it means even more. At home, we always had a parade around our neighborhood in the morning, around noon or so. That would be followed by a picnic in our local park. I can remember taking out our dog, putting red, white and blue streamers around her neck and paws, and marching in the parade with the rest of the families. Even as I got older, and the parade crowd stayed mostly kids and their parents, I still liked to participate. In fact, I did it just last year, at age 22, just a scant month before leaving for Army Basic Training. Here in Korea, I miss that. I miss the spirit of unification that day always brought. On the Fourth in America, everyone is friendly. Everyone is smiling, is unified in the bonds of our patriotism. I have always been highly patriotic. It culminated in my joining the Army. And all I ask is that while you celebrate on this 4th of July, you remember us, far away from our families and traditions. Remember us, who are here for you, for all of you, and have given up so much to be here. Celebrate for us. Enjoy your freedom. Happy Independence Day!


From:  Joseph J. Carroll, Illinois

The fourth is also my wife’s (Josie) birthday and each year Jose, my daughter Mary and my son Patrick and I celebrate the nation’s birthday along with Josie’s.  I have always stressed the greatness of this country and it’s people and what an honor it truly is to be an American to my children.  I have stressed with greatness comes much responsibility and, while other nations may not realize the breadth of our kindness, we must continue to be willing to share our good fortune with the rest of the world and not to succumb to the negativity we so often find ourselves portrayed as having. 


From:  Iris Jacobs, Maryland

It’s a chance to wish my country a happy birthday and to thank our founding fathers for their genius in forming her.  Blessings and warts, it is still the greatest place in the world.


From:  Maren Barduson, Minnesota

The 4th of July is the birthday of our wonderful nation.  It is a patriotic holiday – and that should mean a patriotic program to celebrate the 4th ... Went to a boat parade on one of the Minnesota lakes today – and that is what it is all about.  Boat with people singing,   bands, and everyone wishing everyone a happy 4th – and all the music we heard (which was a lot) was patriotic and about the freedom we have in this wonderful country.


From:  Annette Miserendino, New York

I not only celebrate the birth of our beautiful country, but my husband and I celebrate the day we met, 60 years ago this year. He was two days home from Europe dressed in his uniform and wearing his Infantry Combat Badge and very proud of it. He had just been discharged from the Army after being in Europe for almost two years. So, it is a double holiday for us.


From:  Susan L. Carlson, Texas

As a child growing up in the Northwest corner of North Dakota, near Fortuna, our farming community would gather for a full day of picnicking and games at an old farmsite – Taylor's Grove, we called it.  There was no running water or farmhouse so everything was hauled in on pick-up trucks and in cars.  Lunch was served on long tables covered with linen clothes – "hot dishes" and salads were the main entrees, as I recall.  The afternoon consisted of a baseball game with all ages playing.  We had very good local players from my dad's era in the 30's - 40's and up through the 1970's.  At night, even with the inevitable mosquitoes, we had fireworks.  It was a full day that lasted nearly 12 hours.  Very wonderful memories!!


From:  Megan, Indiana

The Fourth of July is an extra-special day for me not only because it is, as well, my birthday, but because on that day in history our founding fathers had the courage to stand up for our independence and break away from one of the world's greatest powers at the time. My family and I are attending the “A Capitol Fourth” for my eighteenth birthday this year and I cannot wait. Patriotism is a very strong force that unites all races of this great nation, and I cannot imagine what it will feel like to be in the presence of hundreds of thousands celebrating the birth of our nation.


From:  George Alexa, Virginia

"What makes this day special?  People.  People and people.  People from every walk of life, walking and smiling with their children as their dogs romp along in the park.  This day unites me, if only for a moment, to that man and woman who are enjoying the celebrations.  My annual traditions have changed over the years as I come to my sixty years plus.  The tradition of fireworks remains, though I now watch PBS's coverage and my children step into my former position by going to the National Mall.  It is nearly twelve midnight as I write and the sadness comes upon me as the celebration comes to an end.  I end my day with a prayer for all Americans.  I pray for peace for each one.  Do you think we all shall pray for peace?  Let's be people of peace and take this celebration into the next day."


From:  Erica Moffitt, Pennsylvania

I love the Fourth of July, possibly even more than my birthday!  At my house, we watch the fireworks on TV and the fireworks locally usually around our backyard.  We celebrate with family and friends eating hot dogs and hamburgers.  My mom watches the TV fireworks, while I prefer watching them live.  In other years, we"d go park off the side of Front Street in Enola by the river and watch the live fireworks with other people.  It was like a family of strangers just hanging out with their dogs, while kids played in the shallow parts of the river.  My favorite part of Independence Day is the fireworks.  I think fireworks on the Fourth symbolize such American pride that, when watching fireworks, even strangers get along perfectly.  The Fourth of July means unity, respect, pride and togetherness.  Independence Day makes me proud to be an American.


From:  Alice Munoz, California

Of course I think of our Country's Independence when the Fourth of July rolls around every year, but in reality this day means a day off from work, BBQ'd ribs, corn on the cob, Mom's potato salad, our family getting together and the noisy, smoky, beautiful fireworks, the first big celebration of summer.


From:  Jasmine Grossman, Louisiana

It is very interesting and it has a lot of fireworks.


From:  Liza Jane Grossman, Louisiana

I like the Fourth of July because it's fun.