I have a favorite uncle who has taken the plunge into the world of Internet communication and has done a pretty good job of staying in touch with extended family members. It always is nice to hear from him.
Uncle Joe is married to one of my mom’s sisters, and they have a daughter close to my age and a younger son. During my childhood, my family spent time in Arkansas every summer with my grandparents, and I always spent a week or so with Aunt Bobbie and Uncle Joe and their children. They were wonderful hosts and more fun than I ever thought a set of parents could be.
Uncle Joe was a Navy man, a transplant from Massachusetts to Memphis late in World War II. In Memphis, he met my aunt in the lobby of a well-chaperoned boarding house for young single women working in the city. He was there to pick up another girl for a date, but he was quite taken with my aunt and eventually became part of our family.
He served in Korea, came home, and became an engineer with the Yazoo River Basin along the Mississippi River. Now he is retired, and recently he and my aunt moved to a retirement center near their son in Jackson, Miss.
Several years ago, in an email exchange, I told them about our Peabody July Fourth tradition. I think I included photographs or a YouTube video so he could see how we do it.
I also groused about kids exploding fireworks hour after hour for days on end and how glad I would be to conclude the holiday. I always enjoy our community celebration and I think we provide a top notch show, but I must say that by July 5 or 6 I am more than ready for peace and quiet.
Uncle Joe responded with an email that was enthusiastic about the pictures of the Peabody celebration and my description of the events. About my complaints, he pretty much told me to suck it up and be an adult.
“Kids will be kids and they will shoot fireworks just as you and your cousins did when you were young,” he said. “It is only a few days, and you should be glad your community has such a great event and celebrates Independence Day just as John Adams said we should celebrate it … with noise and enthusiasm and participation by everyone all across the country.”
What? John Adams said that? I had no idea.
I looked up John Adams’ quotes and, by golly Uncle Joe was just about on the money. A year or two later someone on the Wichita Eagle editorial board used the same quote to try and calm angry voices in Wichita complaining about fireworks. Uncle Joe and the Eagle editorial writers are probably right about this.
We should not expect silence when we celebrate the Fourth of July. Our children may not know the reason for shooting fireworks to celebrate, but this holiday affirms the success of the signing of the Declaration of Independence in 1776, and fireworks have been around since long before then. They have long been a symbol of celebration.
John Adams had this to say in a letter to his wife about Independence Day:
“I believe that it will be celebrated by succeeding generations as the great anniversary festival. It ought to be commemorated as the day of deliverance … with pomp and parade, with shows, games, sports, guns, bells, bonfires, and illuminations from one end of this great continent to the other, from this time forward, forevermore …”
As long as we approve the sale and detonation of personal fireworks, promote our flag and freedom, and create celebrations like we will have at the park next week, we should expect what we get. So, to paraphrase my wise and favorite uncle, “The holiday ought to be celebrated with noise and enthusiasm and participation by everyone from all across the country just as John Adams said it should.”
Have a wonderful Independence Day and celebrate with abandon!
— SUSAN MARSHALL