Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Fourth of July, Part I

Our whole family is at the Home Office for the next week or so. Our son, R.W., flew in from Chicago, where he lives and is going to grad school. Our daughter, Barrett, who will start at Westmont College this fall, is also here. They and RobAnne and I are all in our little apartment at the Home Office.

We decided, since we’re so close to Washington, D.C., to go this Fourth of July to the Mall. We knew we would have to fight the crowd and deal with the hassle, but we wanted to spend the Fourth of July in Washington, D.C. Let me give you the top ten things I loved about the day:

  1. Being with family – There’s nothing better than just hanging out with your adult kids and having them tell stories of all the shenanigans they did when they were younger. I don’t know why Dad has to be the brunt of every joke, but it’s part of being a dad.
  2. The party – Washington, D.C. was just a big party. There were bands, music, food, dancing, and free museums. I loved the party atmosphere.
  3. Fireworks – This one is interesting because in southern California, fireworks are illegal, but in Pennsylvania, they’re not. We bought, for $15, a bunch of homespun fireworks, and we had a ball putting on our own fireworks display – just for us – on the back porch of the Home Office. But the fireworks with the backdrop of the Washington Monument were amazing. While ours were pretty good, we were surprised by how incredible and how beautiful it was to have fireworks in the context of the Capitol and the Washington Monument, of all the great buildings and monuments of Washington, D.C.
  4. The crowds – I love a crowd. I love being part of a larger group. I really enjoyed all the different types of people – families, younger people, single adults – all kinds of races and ethnicities. It was just great to be part of a crowd.
  5. Energy – You cannot go to the National Mall on the Fourth of July and not get amped up. It is just a lot of energy and a lot of fun.
  6. Aretha Franklin – They had a concert. We sat on the Capitol lawn and listened to Aretha Franklin sing “Respect.” (R-E-S-P-E-C-T. . .) What a deal! She got that crowd so worked up. We were all standing and singing and dancing as she sang songs that reminded us of our growing-up years.
  7. Fighter jets – It was very cool to look up in the sky and see what I believe were two F-15 fighters keeping watch over Washington, D.C. I just felt safe.
  8. Picnics – We took our picnic lunch. We had sandwiches and candy and soda, and there we were – 200 yards from the U.S. Capitol, sitting on the lawn, just enjoying each other’s company, having a picnic. There’s something that’s very right about that.
  9. Remembering those who paid the price – In the midst of all this partying, all this excitement, Aretha Franklin, and all the fun, I could not help but notice the veterans who were there. Some were in wheelchairs, and some obviously had had their lives severely affected by their service to our country. I couldn’t help but remember the cost of freedom.
  10. Flip-Flops – One of the challenges I have, being from the West Coast and working on the East Coast, is how formally people dress. I miss wearing flip-flops to work. I was wearing them all day in Washington, D.C.


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