July 2019

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In a letter to his wife, John Adams wrote that the day the young nation had declared its independence would be celebrated throughout future generations. He proclaimed,
“I am apt to believe that it will be celebrated by succeeding generations as the great anniversary festival. It ought to be commemorated as the day of deliverance by solemn acts of devotion to God Almighty; it ought to be solemnized with pomp and parade, with shows, games, sports, guns, bells, bonfires and illuminations from one end of this continent to the other, from this time forward forever more.”
On the 4th of July, as John Adams predicted, Americans have faithfully gathered with family, food, and fireworks to celebrate our nation and our freedom. In honor of the holiday, I decided to look back at the fourth of July’s I have celebrated in different parts of the country.
Alabama: The Hometown
Fourth of July’s in Alabama are my favorite because it means I’m with my family and I’m home. Many of my 4th of July’s were spent during these warm summer nights. My mom always had plenty of delicious food cooked that we would enjoy throughout the day. A tradition of ours was watching fireworks at the local park. I remember running in our lawn with my brother while we waved our sparklers in the air. As the frogs and insects would begin singing their nightly tunes, I would gaze up at the stars and feel content.

Washington, D.C: Rainy Evening in the Capital
I was five when my family took a summer vacation to the capital, so the memories are a bit vague. We spent the day touring museums and monuments. Thankfully many pictures were taken and videos were recorded so I am able to look back and see all that we did. However, there is one thing I distinctly remember: rain, and lots of it. We were waiting for the fireworks when the rain started to pour down. I recall running to the car with my family as my Dad hoisted me up into his arms. Isn’t it interesting the way memories work? To this day that image of the rain coming down is so clear to me while everything else is quite unclear.  I cherish this 4th of July because I was able to spend it in the seat of government of our country.

Missouri: Under the Arch
This fourth of July was spent under the St. Louis Arch watching fireworks stream over the city. Earlier in the day I enjoyed food with family and by the afternoon we sat on the front porch sharing stories. As evening drew close, we made our way back into the city. There were hundreds of people all scattered around the grounds of the park. As the show began, everyone laid down and watched as the lights of the fireworks reflected onto the steel slopes of the arch. Cheers rose up from the crowd as the fireworks thundered and the finale blazed the night sky.

California: On the Cliffs
This summer I was in California for an internship. My roommate and I, along with other interns, drove to the cliffs near Torrey Pines. As we got out of the car, we joined the stream of other people making their way to the cliff’s edge. We sat, as comfortably as we could, on the rocks and waited. Before nightfall, I took a picture of the sunset because the colors had melted into patriotic hues of red, white, and blue. As the ocean surrounded us down below, high up on the cliffs we watched fireworks in the distance.
Sunset on the cliffs near La Jolla, CA
New Mexico: No Fireworks No Problem
When I was in New Mexico last summer the drought conditions were so high that fireworks were prohibited. Fortunately, I was able to enjoy a cookout at my coworker’s house. By dusk we had walked to the neighborhood park. There is something about seeing swings that inspires that childlike excitement again. Everyone raced over to them and we began our descent up as high as we could go. In the stillness of the air from the lack of fireworks, our voices filled quietness.
Wherever you may be celebrating our great nation’s Independence Day at, I wish you a happy and safe fourth of July. Happy Birthday, America!

---Kalifa Stringfield
Kalifa Stringfield is a Masters student in the College of Engineering

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