One of the more desirable qualities of growing old is a wealth of memories.  Within my fifty years of life, I have achieved a record of living hard and fast.  I considered slowing down the back side of fifty but to no avail.  I love living life!  Consequently I am the only grandmother I know who has more skinned knees than her grandchildren…unless they are with me.  I have acquired bumps and bruises along with broken and crushed bones, but nine times out of ten it has been worth the experiences and memories made.

As the Fourth of July approaches I have slowed down long enough to remember celebrating the Fourth as a little girl.  Every year, for as long as I can remember, there has always been the Galax Fireman’s Carnival. What may seem rather insignificant today was a highlight for most of us children who saw very little of the world outside our protected environment.  I delighted in the taste of my first cotton candy and candy apple.  Being quite the tomboy I was thrilled to shoot a rifle at standup rabbits all to win a rather chintzy teddy bear.  I relished in the excitement the carnival rides offered.  The rides satisfied a need for excitement and adventure with their breakneck speed and heights!

Some of my fondest memories took place on a weeklong Wagon Train.  It consisted of horse drawn buggies, covered wagons, single riders, and a wagon master.   I helped my Father load our covered wagon with supplies, and after a long day of traveling we circled the wagons and set up camp each night.  I loved the smell of campfires and the aroma of everyone’s dinner cooking.  Eventually music and dancing would fill the air, but I never got to see much of that as my Father felt his girls belonged at home after dark.  Therefore, my devoted Mother transferred us back and forth daily and cared for all the endless chores at home.

Having my own horse allowed me to experience a freedom I had never known before at the tender age of nine.  I loved dropping behind the train so I could gallop to catch back up.  What was even more fun was to get some of the boys to accept my invitation to race!  My mission in life at that time was to prove I could not only do anything a boy could, but could sometimes do it better.  These races were exhilarating and satisfying as I usually did win!  The Wagon Train ended on the day of the street parade.  We always brought up the rear of the parade due to the droppings the horses left behind.

As I got older I marched in the Woodlawn Raiders Marching Band.  I played the clarinet.  My ultimate goal was to be a majorette, and to wear the cute military uniform with the pleated skirt and double breasted vest.  I finally accomplished it in the ninth grade.  I never tired of marching and twirling my baton…looking cute, but I soon graduated and left behind the only world I had ever known.

As an adult, I realized the Fourth of July is much more than carnivals, wagon trains, and parades.  It is about celebrating the independence of our great nation, America.  The memories I tried to create for my own children involved fun and festivals, but we didn’t neglect to acknowledge the price that was paid for this holiday.  We studied the life of the men who signed the Declaration of Independence and read of how they lost everything for what they were willing to die for– our freedom as a nation.

There is also an eternal freedom that was paid for by the Author of the original quote:  “Greater love hath no man than this, that one lay down his life for his friends.”   Because of the example of Jesus that was left in the greatest history book, the Bible, many men and women were inspired to follow His example by paying the ultimate price, and to love someone other than themselves, and loving not their own lives unto death.   This great nation was founded on belief in God’s Word and many have fought to have freedom to worship the one true God.

Parade (1)