I don’t remember a 4th of July when I didn’t have fireworks.
I don’t remember not hearing the WHOOF that means “here it comes!”
I don’t remember not dousing and dipping myself in bug repellant so the skeeters wouldn’t eat more of me than I had consumed in hotdogs, chips and Coca-Cola over the course of a glorious day of celebrating.
I don’t remember not watching from anywhere other than front and center to revel at the beauty a group of firefighters are able to spray across a night sky in spite of wind and clouds, or hand in hand with light breezes and clear skies.
I don’t remember not swelling with pride as “Stars and Stripes” blares out as I mime and “sing” the piccolo part while marching in time to the music. (My band memories are bold and significant.)
I don’t remember not singing “Proud to be an American” along with Lee Greenwood at the top of my lungs while bright sprays of color, and lights outshine what the moon and stars give on an ordinary night.
I don’t remember a time when I haven’t shared the honor of being an American with family, friends or both while watching a black canvas lit up in red white and blue; booms, blooms and brilliance that looms in the gloom, across the sky sparks zoom. Sharp edges, showers of fire, flowering lights like chrysanthemums and hydrangeas. Color within color, shape within shape.
I don’t remember a Fourth, see a bright flash, hold my breath and wait for the boom that shook me from the middle of my chest and then still be alarmed when the inevitable blast grabbed me and felt like it was pushing me back.
I don’t remember not cheering, whistling and shouting at the GRANDE FINALE of blinding color, chaos of pattern, and not an inch of sky missing a sparkle or flash, as loud strains of a patriotic song are being sung and blared from radios all around.
I don’t remember ever trying to see the dazzling splashes of color through a canopy of green trees from the confines of my backyard and deck. Nor do I remember sitting anywhere other than a lawn chair or on a blanket in the grass at 10:00 p.m. on the Fourth.
I don’t remember being able to walk a few feet into my back door when the music has ended with Pistol Pete encouraging me to “make it a tradition and come again next year”, this while I have merely heard the noise and seen flashing across the clouds; relying on memory and imagination to fill in the blanks.
I don’t remember tears shed for anything other than the beauty, the joy and the pride of celebrating the Fourth of July, a Holiday for MY country.
I don’t remember a 4th fo July without fireworks.