Kindred: Holidays are a chance to ‘vigorously celebrate America’ again | High school basketball
The wedding vows included all the usual things… “for the richest, for the poorest, sick and healthy to love and cherish, until death do us part.”
Nowhere are the words “Celebrate America Vigilantly Every July”. We understood this for ourselves.
So, for almost all of our 40 years together, yours truly and my wife, Martha, have hosted a 4th of July party for family, extended family, friends, acquaintances, cats, dogs and the occasional wanderer.
What started small with our close friends, Jeff and Kathy Fulks, and our four children (two of us, two of theirs), has grown into an annual explosion of backyard games, musical quizzes, sparklers, hot food and cold drinks.
It’s our favorite day on the calendar… this year more than ever.
There had been no party last July, ending a streak of more than 30 years. The COVID-19 pandemic has been a major factor. As was the tragic death of our nephew’s 3 year old son, Jett Brown, who passed away on June 27, 2020. Our family and community in Carthage, Illinois still mourned his loss on July 4th.
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He will be with us in spirit this year as we celebrate our country and its memory. It has shown itself often over the past 12 months via rainbows arching in the sky. We choose to believe that this is his way of saying, “I’m here, I see you, I love you.”
There will be a toast in his honor. We’ve toasted to many things at the party over the years, from newly married couples to newborns, retirees to loved ones we’ve lost and, of course, our country. This is an annual group hug that focuses on America, but encompasses a lot more. That’s why last year was so difficult.
We missed each other and the tradition of it all. You wear and / or see specific outfits for the day… clothes that hang in closets or lie folded in drawers for sunrises, waiting for their turn to shine.
An Uncle Sam outfit with a long blue coat, a red, white and blue hat and red and white striped pants. It was bought a few years ago in another Bloomington-Normal tradition, the Third Sunday Market.
Priced at $ 45, the whole thing was secured for $ 30, a neat deal for sure. He paid himself several times for the hosts of the party, who transformed him into patriotic attire for two.
This is how much we love this day. We feel the urge to watch the game, and are ready to look silly doing it. Guests are encouraged to do the same.
There are no rules other than this: politics is not allowed. There is no selection for Democrats and Republicans, Liberals and Conservatives. Everyone is welcome. The day is about America and it’s a lot, especially after a year of illness, civil unrest and political / social discord.
The playlist each year includes Lee Greenwood’s 1984 hit, “God Bless the USA”. We started playing it long before it became politically aligned. When Greenwood hums, “I’d be happy to stand next to you and defend her again today,” we stand up. It has become a tradition.
So have red, white and blue spray painted stars in the garden, the brainchild of the family, my wife. A hastily sketched outline becomes the perfect patriotic playground for Jarts throwers, bag throwers, and more.
We also had thematic “floats” built on small red carts, pulling them like a parade down the street.
Is it a bit too much? We sure hope so.
Our combined families have had a father, brother, uncles and cousins who serve our country. We celebrate the freedoms they fought for. If our annual response seems exaggerated, so be it.
Hope you also have a festive 4th of July. Celebrate a country that, despite all its warts, is still great. Celebrate the ability to celebrate. Getting together was one of the many things we took for granted before the pandemic. Kiss him like never before.
🎆 From the archives: July 4 in central Illinois
State Representative Dan Brady at the 4th of July parade in Downs
Tim Phillips of Lincoln walks with the American flag
Annual parades with local school bands
Captain Rat greets fans at Fairview Park from Normal
Young people perform during “Celebrate America”
Organizers hope to repeat the event every July 4
The McManus family celebrated the fourth
Sites for sounds
Fourth full of fun options
July 4th marked by OpSail 2000
July 4th will be celebrated for homosexuals
A park party for July 4th
Matt Hedeman showed off his colors on the 4th of July parade
Relaxing picnic rate for July 4th
Randy Kindred is a retired sports columnist and editor at Pantagraph. Follow Randy Kindred on Twitter: pg_kindred