In the rearview mirror, Independence Day, 2014


It is an early and lovely morning.

The beginning of the day is into good light. I am sitting out front, but there is no passing traffic to disturb my first cup of coffee. Only the soft whisper of the sprinkling system that waters the front yard can be heard. It occurs to me those sprinklers would have paid for a dozen cannon back in 1776.

The sprinklers mist into a gentle breeze, itself not even a whisper. But it  nudges the American flag flying in front of my neighbor’s house. His name is Oscar Robertson and I can’t recall just when he erected the only flagpole on our street. I know it’s been there for years and is sort of our very own “Old Glory.”

Across the street and down the block is a smaller Old Glory. It hangs from a pole attached to the front of the Ziglars’ house.

I sit and know I am blessed and that July 4, 1776, is a big reason. The Old Glory next door and the one down the street are constant reminders of that.

At the end of the first coffee, I go inside and turn on the TV to the History Channel.

“The Revolutionary War” is on the screen, has been for a day or so. Narrated by the late Charles Kuralt, it is a classic. I've seen it several times in the past, but part of my DNA is I like winning, especially when it is us doing the winning.

I know we’re going to win again, but the episode on the screen is not of winning, but of surviving. It is the winter of  1777-78 and the Continental Army is in the misery of Valley Forge.

I’ve been to Valley Forge, walked its pathways, and wondered at the survival of so many men in the log huts (replicas) on the grounds. A two-hole country outhouse is a fair comparison. History records that 2,500 men and 700 horses died there ... without a shot being fired.

The second Continental Congress met in Philadelphia and declared our independence from England on July 4, 1776. John Adams was one of the 13 men who signed the declaration.

I’ve been to his house, too, on the outskirts of Boston. In Boston I walked the Freedom Trail and stood in front of the Old North Church where  the coming of the British would be lanterns in the church belfry ...

“One if by land, two if by sea.”

Paul Revere’s house is also one of the 16 historical sites along the 2.5 miles of the trail.

Somewhere in there — I’m not sure of the dates — I visited the Liberty Bell in Philadelphia and Bunker Hill in Boston.

Memories come mostly in quiet times and Friday morning was a quiet time.

Just before noon, the phone breaks the quiet. It is son-and-heir:

“We’re going to the river this afternoon, grill hamburgers and hot dogs, love for you and Mom to come.”

He didn’t tell the truth.

The menu was grilled ribs, pork chops, and chicken. The “trimmings” would feed a church supper. Peach cobbler and Blue Bell ice cream sent me home into the twilight of July 4, 2014.

Again I sit out front and look at Oscar’s flag, the Ziglars’ flag, and the fireflies blinking across the yard.

It occurred to me that the fireflies were not exactly “the rocket’s red glare,” but fireworks popping here and there flashed an imaginary image of John Paul Jones on the deck of his burning frigate . . .

“I have not yet begun to fight”

A firefly followed me into the house, but if there’s a message in that I have no idea what it is about.

I do know I slept in peaceful slumber with Independence Day, 2014, in the rearview mirror ... and I know I am blessed.

  So are you.

George Smith can be reached at 256-239-5286 or e-mail: gsmith731