Sunday, July 04, 2004

Happy Birthday America

In recent years, there has been renewed controversy over the use of the words "under God" in the Pledge of Allegiance. In January of 1969, the comedian Red Skelton performed a reading of the Pledge of Allegiance that sums up beautifully what I feel to be the proper response to this debate. You can read and hear Red Skelton's performance at either of these links:


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Earlier today I was reminiscing of how we used to celebrate the 4th of July when I was a kid. We'd all stash our money away and buy fireworks from the local kid who had some magical connection to the fireworks underworld. Only a select few would be allowed into the basement, usually on East 26th street, to check out the selection of fireworks. The rest of us would have to rely on "the list" which usually was headed by a "mat of firecrackers" or "jumping jacks". Then there were the lovely groupings of heavy explosives (for use by day) such as "M-80's" and the deafening "Blockbuster". The heavy stuff was always followed by an unbelievably large selection of rockets and "mortar shells" to turn the dark of night into a colorful explosion.

Once we've blown up the neighborhood and fueled several bonfires by day, it was time to hit the family barbecue only to return for the festival of "colorful stuff" usually comprised of an assortment of "rockets" (sold by the dozen) and the inevitable "roman candle fights (boy were we stupid; actually aiming colorful balls of fire at each other)." Throughout the entire day we'd tolerate the adults trying to scare us into being extra careful with all of the (true) stories of those that end up in the emergency room. Surprisingly, none of us ever had any serious injuries but I can attest to the truth of the emergency room stories having ended up there one 4th of July evening for reasons other than fire and explosives.

It was all an unusual mix of stupidity, naivete, and camaraderie that somehow helped shape what then could easily have been labeled a derelict group into what turned out to be a fine group of folks. It was nice to take a moment to look back at those days. For now, I'm going to flip on the tube on watch Keith Lockhart lead the Boston Pops which culminates in an extraordinary "professional" pyrotechnics display.

I hope you've all enjoyed your celebration. Until next time, May God Bless You All!

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