Fourth of July

by Mike Hemming

There were six of them while I was in the navy, but I only remember two. One spent in Ocean City, MD on a 72, the other in Jamaica. The others were all at sea, boring holes in the ocean somewhere. That happened a lot to all of us, we came home and some of the world had passed us by. The Beatles and silly crap like that, who cared anyway, things like that don’t mean much in the long run.

But missing holidays especially the 4th of July, the birthday of our country, that meant something to me. My 4ths were always simple but meaningful as they were watched over by my grandfather, a fierce little patriot born of immigrant parents. He always decorated the place with flags and made sure all the youngsters knew that the day was important.

That 4th of July in Ocean City was the first time I had ever seen all of a fireworks display at a close distance. We often saw the tops of the displays over the trees at a nearby town from my grandfather’s place. I remember thinking that night walking back to the apartment, of thanking my ancestors for doing what they did so I ended up being born in America. I also thanked my grandfather and the rest of them for instilling the need to stop on this day and remember and celebrate the birthday of our country. The fireworks display, while beautiful and a real symphony for the eyes, wasn’t the important thing really. It was that families got together, stopped their lives for a bit and remembered and cared enough to say 'Thanks'.

So the truth is that those 4ths at sea were not really lost after all. I was with men that cared enough to serve. And each of us spent a little time that day thanking America for being born and remembering those that gave lives and fortunes so she could be born and survive all these years.

Happy Birthday America and may God bless you and those that sail today over under and on the sea in your name, in places far away and alone.