Thursday, July 12, 2007
Celebrating America’s birthday
I had an all-American Fourth of July. The fireworks were bursting across the sky and it was a wonderful way to celebrate the 231st birthday of America. We were boating, swimming, skiing, and having an all American picnic of fried chicken, pimento cheese sandwiches, and red, white and blue cake (blueberries, strawberries and whipped cream). Everybody in my family loves America and the Fourth of July. “The Star Spangled Banner” goes through every heart, but singing it is hard to do as it covers twenty notes on the scale. We are very patriotic. Frances Scott Key wrote this song in 1814 when the British were fighting us (again) at Fort McHenry, which is in Baltimore. The battle raged through the night and with the first light of day, Key could see the American stars and bars waving in the breeze. He was so elated and thrilled that it inspired him to write “The Star Spangled Banner.”
My family had ancestors in 1754 who fought in the French and Indian War near Pittsburgh, Pa., with George Washington. One of our ancestors got scalped there but lived to tell about it. Twenty-two years later we had about ten ancestors in the Revolutionary War.
One of our great-great-great-great-grandmothers was a heroine in that war when she held off the British while her husband escaped. In the War Between the States, we had a grandfather (!!!) and a great-grandfather and several uncles who fought to defend our country. Wouldn’t you fight if you had an invader in your front yard stealing your chickens or your cow or your horse with their guns attacking you and yours? Then we skip over until World War I and we had an uncle who fought in France for that one. In World War II we had numerous kin who fought in this war. One was in the Bataan Death March, and he still lives today, one of the few left. The Korean War got one of our kin too. All the wars were tough; wars aren’t really anything new. America has had 11 wars in all, counting the Mexican War, Vietnam, Desert Storm and the Iraqi war.
Growing up in Holly Springs, I never remember anything civic going on the Fourth of July. However, in my high school days, friends and I used to go to Spring Lake (now Wall Doxey Park) to swim and play the juke box and visit. We furnished our own fireworks.
Vicksburg never celebrated the Fourth of July as Vicksburg fell on the Fourth of July 1863. In 1954 President Eisenhower visited Vicksburg. The city went all out to welcome our president to Mississippi and Vicksburg. They had a parade and had built a grandstand for the President to view the parade. The whole procession passed by and the last were the cavalry troops mounted on horseback. As they faced the president they drew swords and pointed them in a salute to honor Mr. Eisenhower. On replacing the sword in its sheath as they were leaving, one zealous soldier trying to jab his sword into the sheath, jabbed it into the horse, which fell dead. However, I can’t find anybody who was there to verify this or even remember it. The Battle of Vicksburg and Gettysburg both happened on July 4, 1863, and this is when the South began its decline.
Past presidents Thomas Jefferson and John Adams both died on the Fourth of July in 1826.
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