Friday, July 05, 2013
The Fourth of July is a holiday we haven't celebrated in a traditional way for quite a few years now. We used to go to the local Air Force base, which would have almost a fair - with food vendors, booths, games, a concert, and of course fireworks. There were a million people there, more or less. I hated it.
But several years ago, the base stopped hosting a celebration on the Fourth, and I was glad of the excuse to not go. I love fireworks, but I hate crowds and traffic jams. My hatred of crowds and traffic jams is greater than my love of fireworks by far.
Not going to fireworks was a huge disappointment to my oldest son (who was never the one doing the driving). But he did understand where I was coming from. There are other places that have fireworks, but I just didn't want to go. Meanwhile, my daughter has super, super sensitive hearing. Not necessarily extremely good hearing, just sensitive hearing. Which means in practice that she can't tolerate fireworks. The noise causes her actual pain, to the point that she will actually start crying and beg and plead to leave. I suspect that this may be related to her physical disability, but since it has never really caused any problems except with fireworks, I haven't made an issue of it with her doctors.
So, three or four years ago, we started doing something else on the Fourth. We drive to the Air Force base, which is quiet and peaceful, and we go to the outdoor museum of retired aircraft. There is a circle of flags, with a US Flag on a very tall pole. Around it, in two concentric circles, are other flags on shorter poles - all fifty state flags, in the order of joining the union, plus Puerto Rico, Guam, American Samoa, the US Virgin Islands, the US Air Force, and the Wing. I think that's all. We walk around the flags and look at each one. Then we start walking on the path that goes all around the planes. There are a lot of them, and they are, of course, quite large, and also quite far from each other, so it's a long path, and a lot of walking. We read the information about each plane, and also about the men who flew them.
It's a wonderful, thoughtful way to spend the Fourth. We have no family in the area to barbecue with, and no reason to grill, since three out of the four of us wouldn't touch grilled food. So we look at the flags and the planes and think about our country and its history. And we eat a pick up meal when we get home afterwards - yesterday it was frozen pizza.
Also yesterday Henry had to work until 6, so we were a bit later getting started than usual. And by the time we had finished walking around the planes, it was dark. But it was still a wonderful way to spend the Fourth of July.