Since this is my personal blog, the one where I can post on topics ranging from single mothers and social issues to my family and life experiences, this afternoon I decided to jot down a few things about the Fourth. I love everything about the holiday and the values and principles that it represents. Yep, I even like the golf cart parades, and it makes my day when I see someone wearing a red, white, and blue bathing suit.

This Fourth was quiet compared to many of the others I’ve celebrated. It was just the two of us in Myrtle Beach on Independence Day, and here’s what we did. We began celebrating the night before with a cookout at Carol and Randy’s house in Windy Hill. Loved the huge strawberry shortcake! On the morning of the Fourth, we hit the beach early and stayed there for a couple of hours. We walked, talked, read, and people watched, and I hope to always spend at least a part of our nation’s birthday doing just that.

Later we ate lunch, shopped a little, ate burgers, splurged on ice cream at Cold Stone in Market Commons, and watched a sad fireworks display. We usually go to the 2nd Ave Pier with throngs of other people, but this year we opted to stay at the Commons to view the spectacular display we had seen last year. It didn’t happen; we saw a total of six fiery bursts. Live and learn, right? Next year we’ll be down by the ocean.

Reliving last week’s Fourth has conjured up memories of past celebrations, and in keeping with the Fourth, I’m going to share my top four.

At the top of the list is one in which my son and I went with a buddy from Loris and her daughter to the nation’s capital. Talk about a fireworks display! We joined what seemed like thousands of our fellow American on the mall and watched an awesome sight and  sound show. Something that makes this memory special is that it marks the evening when I realized that my son was growing up and away (from me). He was probably about 10 and VERY ACTIVE. Not content to stay with “us gals,” he climbed on statues and monuments to get a better look at the people and festivities. I was a nervous Nellie, afraid that some crazy person would kidnap him.

Another top memory goes back years ago. It took place in Myrtle Beach. My first husband and I were big into running in those days, and on the Fourth we got up before dawn and went down to the beach for a three-mile jog. My mother was visiting with us and stayed behind to watch the children. We had barely begun our jog when we saw them, a family of about six (maybe more—it was a quick glance) Vietnamese huddled together on the stairs of a beach access boardwalk. To me, they all looked scared and uncertain as they stared out at the ocean. Were they thinking of the land they had left? Were they wondering what this BIG DAY was all about? Were they anxious about what lay before them in the land of the free?

Another favorite memory is of a day when my daughter Carrie and I left the coast to spend the day in the midlands with various family members. My brother and his family were in town visiting my parents for a few days, and we wanted to share a burger with them. My other brother and his family joined us, and if I’m not mistaken, that was the last Independence Day we shared with my parents. Wish we’d taken some pictures.

After lunch and some “hanging out,” we took off for Sumter to visit my sister. She and her husband owned a restaurant at that time, and we (visiting brother and his family and Carrie and I) dined there that night. We have a funny looking picture to prove it. Dave’s wearing a Panama hat, and the rest of us are just standing there looking like dorks. After good-bye hugs, Carrie and I headed east again, but before going home, we stopped in Florence. The parents of a young man whom she was dating at the time had invited us to come by, and we did. They had a pool, and in and around it were a couple of dozen people mingling and talking and lying on floats. There was also lots of food, especially desserts, but Carrie and I restrained ourselves. Tired but happy, we made it back to the beach around midnight.

This post has gone on long enough! I’m just briefly mention last year’s celebration at the beach. Although I can’t remember what happened during the day, I’ll never forget watching the fireworks with my grandchildren at Market Commons in Myrtle Beach that night. In a word, awesome. Afterwards we walked the mile or so back home, and the entire way back, Brooke talked nonstop to Otis. He kiddingly told her that she needed to save her breath for walking, but she chattered on and on. Sweet girl.

I’m sure everyone has special memories of families and friends and flags and burgers. I just wanted to share a few of mine. You know, I think seeing that Vietnamese family is the one that tops the list. For me, it marked the first time I knew that change was happening at breakneck speed, that America was indeed a refuge for millions, and that cultural diversity was becoming more important. I hope the family has found opportunity here and that they love America as much as I do.

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