Though I am writing this a day after the big holiday, I still feel it is appropriate to reflect on the Fourth of July, or as it is officially known, Independence Day. As far as walks down Memory Lane go, the Fourth of July doesn't rank up there with the major holidays such as Christmas, Thanksgiving, or even Halloween for that matter.
However, for most patriotic Americans the smell of hot dogs and hamburgers on the grill and the sights and sounds of fireworks conjure up images of a special day in our country's history. To a child, it may not be such a big deal. After all, they don't even get a break from school for this special day because they are already out for summer vacation. But Dad got the day off, stayed home and took Mom's place by cooking the steaks on the charcoal on an open grill.
Unlike Thanksgiving and Christmas, the Fourth of July is usually hotter than a firecracker. (Pun intended.) I do recall one Independence Day in which Dad cooked the steaks outdoors wearing a jacket. I don't recall it ever being that cool on the Fourth before or ever again.
Folks really got into the spirit (of 76) of things during this country's bicentennial in 1976. Everything was bigger and better that year, from the fireworks to the musical performances across the country.
Most communities where I have lived have celebrated the Fourth with fireworks displays of their own. One of my earlier assignments with the Osceola Times was coverage of the city's “fun run” in which city celebrities such as the mayor, fire chief, police chief, council members etc. participated. The evening culminated with a fireworks display at the city's old baseball field.
It was my first experience experimenting shooting photos of a fireworks display. I sat my camera up carefully on a tripod in my front yard. I lived less than a block away from the ballpark. I learned through reading lots of books and conversing with other photographers that the best way to capture a fireworks image was to focus on one location, set the timer and leave the shutter open for several blasts.
It worked almost to perfection. I used color slide film and I think I still have some of those pictures in my photographic collection.
Another fun Fourth I recall was Joyce and I's first in Batesville, before the kids arrived. We had made friends with some folks at church, who had a little girl that wanted to shoot a few firecrackers and a couple of bottle rockets. We lived outside the city limits, so it was legal. I think it was the first and only time I was involved with a fireworks display on the property where I lived.
I have memories of taking Christina to a fireworks display at Waldron. She was so young I don't think she appreciated the bright lights or the loud noise.
Page 2 of 2 - While the Fourth of July is set aside each year for us to remember the freedom that we hold so dear, it is also about being together as a family. There's nothing wrong with enjoying ice cream, hot dogs, hamburgers, cold soft drinks and taking in a Major League baseball game on the tube.
This year's Fourth also promises to be special. Yesterday was a day to remember the lives lost on that fateful day 150 years ago. Three major battles took place that day – Gettysburg, Vicksburg and Helena. Thought the Battle of Helena re-enactment took place on Memorial Day weekend, special events took place Thursday to commemorate the official day of the battle.
This year Helena-West Helena extended the holiday festivities through the weekend with the first ever Freedom Festival. Activities from 2 to 6 p.m. are “family-friendly” and include games ranging from a hot dog eating contest to a Slip-N-Slide.
Come out and enjoy the fun. Isn't that a part of what freedom is all about?