Unless you are distracted by the passing of stars and superstars; unless you are living under the earth or out of range of cell phone reception, you are acutely aware that people in America are looking forward to a National Birthday Party this weekend.
If your neighborhood is anything like ours, you are hearing the aftermath of the many visits to the fireworks stands that dot the landscape. Those stands will do a "land office" business until the last gasp of Fourth of July, 2009. People will be treated to professional displays of fireworks at baseball stadiums across the land, picnics and cookouts and events of every sort will be arranged, and parades will fill the streets of Everytown, USA.
On Saturday we will hang a flag by the front door of our home. Military men and women will be remembered and honored. The weather will be discussed. People will be boating, fishing, racing, and generally enjoying their freedoms.
July 4th is also special to me for very personal reasons. My father, Herman Charles Pieper, was born on July 4, 1913 and the world is much better for his having come here to leave his mark.
I am well aware that the longer ago someone has passed, the more saint-like they become in our memory. That said, however, I cannot resist sharing this story:
Grandma Pieper used to 'complain' about how Herman-Bud,as he was known by his family-just ruined a perfectly good holiday picnic that hot summer day. Grandma had fried a chicken and made potato salad for a picnic early on the morning of that holiday. She and Grandpa were fishing from a boat. As the story has been told and retold, they had not been on the water for long when she my dad began to give notice that he was about to arrive.
Of course, they hurried back to the shore and all was well and happy. Grandma was a great story teller and she never refrained from adding this tag line to the tale of my dad's birth: "We never did decide if he was a Firecracker or a Big Fizzle." And then Grandma Pieper would grin in a way that let you know she thought he was the grandest firecracker ever!
So, if Dad were still here, we would bake him a cake, give him a funny card, brag about the good old USA and retell the story of his arrival.
HAPPY BIRTHDAY, AMERICA!