If you are of a certain age, you might have a special memory of a huge milestone in the history of our nation — the Bicentennial. It was a year of huge celebrations for the two-hundredth anniversary of the signing of our Declaration of Independence from England. I had the privilege of joining the celebration in the place where it all began.
Fun Family Trips Of The Past
When I was young, my grandfather sent us on wonderful trips in the summer. It was usually me, my brother, my six cousins, my parents, aunts and uncles, my grandmother and her friend — anywhere from sixteen to twenty travelers. He sent us to Washington D.C., The Grand Canyon, California, the Florida Keys, The Greenbriar in West Virginia and a Caribbean cruise.
These trips often involved traveling in an R.V. My mom and aunts would make activity bags for us cousins full of paper, crayons, game books and anything else to keep us occupied during long days of travel. We were always sent to the back of the R.V. while the adults sat up front. I was the oldest of the cousins with a ten-year age difference between me and the youngest so I didn’t always appreciate having to sit in the back.
My favorite trip was in the summer of 1976, when we toured the New England states. Being a lover of all things historic, this was right up my alley.
We covered a lot of ground on that trip to the New England states. We toured Colonial Williamsburg and Philadelphia on our way to Massachusetts. We went to Cape Cod and Martha’s Vineyard and saw a replica of the Mayflower and Plymouth Rock in Plymouth. We drove up into Vermont and visited a granite mine and saw Franconia Notch in New Hampshire.
Boston was our home base the first few days of July. We went to a cool living history museum, Sturbridge Village, where we accidentally left my little brother. Salem, Lexington and Concord were on the agenda for the Fourth of July. After a long day of touring in the crowded tourist spots, we returned to our hotel, The Holiday Inn overlooking the Charles River. We had a great view of the tall ships in town for the Bicentennial celebrations and the hundreds of motorboats assembled to watch the fireworks. We watched from our balconies as thousands of people streamed down to the river to listen to the concert by the Boston Pops.
We watched the most incredible fireworks display set to The 1812 Overture. At the climax of the piece, as the cannons were fired, there was a synchronized explosion of color in the night sky. It ended with a crescendo of sound and light and a collective cheer from the crowd.
I don’t think I will ever forget that night.
Forty-Five Years Later
We are at home on the Fourth of July for the first time in at least fourteen years. We are usually in the mountains of North Carolina or at the beach. Twice, we have been in foreign countries. We were in London for Independence Day, 2010. Funny, they weren’t celebrating our long-ago act of treason. One Independence Day found us at a wedding in Georgia, celebrating the marriage of a favorite cousin. We had a not-so-happy Fourth of July on Kiawah Island, S.C. when my kids were little. You can read about it in this older blog post.
So, I’ve celebrated the Fourth of July in many different ways — from a simple cookout with my husband and puppy last year to a grand celebration at the place where it all started, with a little bit of everything else in between.
I think it’s fitting that this year Independence Day is on a Sunday. We will go to church and worship our Lord. We will thank Him for the many blessings he has poured out on us. We will pray for wisdom as we strive to treat our fellow Americans with love, respect and justice. We will ask forgiveness for our sins, for straying away from our God. We will pray for guidance in making the United States a better nation, all the while keeping in mind our true citizenship is in a kingdom far greater than any earthly one. And yes, we will eat some hot dogs and watch some fireworks too. After all, it is the Fourth of July!
How about you? What is your favorite Independence Day memory? Were you around for the Bicentennial? What are some favorite memories of that special time. I’d love to hear.