Wednesday, July 05, 2006

The 4th of July

Yesterday was the 4th. I guess that I dissapointed because I did not write something intensely patriotic but since it was the first 4th of July I have had in the USA in 5 years I spent the day doing what I do best. I fired up my smoker and spent the day smoking brisket, sausage, chicken, and ribs.

It's a labor of love. I started out at 08:00 and it took me over an hour just to get the fire right. After that I started the meats. Nothing came off until 16:30 and it was the chicken first. I used the beer can method and there is just no other way to keep it juicy that I know of except that.

I drank beer all day too. I love beer becuase I just don't get drunk on it. I get to certain level and just buzz along. Shiner (a local brand) has come out with a Kolsch (Cologne) style of summer brew very similar to an India Pale Ale. Crisp and no bitter aftertaste so I pounded down quite a few whilst tending to the matters at hand.

I did all of this and purposely avoided public places, fireworks displays, red/white/blue bunting and other over the top displays of patriotism. I don't feel the need to "have to". I know what I have done, I know what my friends have done. I didn't call a bunch of friends and family and wish them a tepid,"Happy 4th, how's the wife, kids, and dog? I called some of my Army buddies who are here in the states. They are getting ready to redeploy back to the sand box after being home for two years.

I wanted to talk to them and hear their voices. We spent 4th of July in 2004 sitting on top of an abandoned flight line control tower smoking cigars and talking about all the wonderful things we would do when we were home. When I called I found that their holidays were as low key as mine. I found that their hope for the holiday was the same as mine. They said the same thing I was feeling. They said,"I hope no one over there gets killed today."

I talked to Fritz. I love this guy. He is one of the finest Americans I know and I miss his daily council but he does keep in touch. I wanted to talk to Big Lou also but he is in Greece celbrating the 4th by yelling,"Opa!" and smashing dinner plates.

Life gets really simple once you have looked the elephant in the eye. Holidays don't have the same impact. False diplays are irritating. Most people you know are so different and oblivious to the world that you just don't even want to be around them anymore. You can't scream at them. You can't grab them by the nostrils and shake their heads and yell," Wake up! Your world is phony!" . They just don't get it.

The 4th of July is a huge holiday on the calendar. It is the celebration of our decision to cut the ties with the UK and go it alone. It was a watershed event in history and deserves celebration. I celebrated the same as everyone else in the past. I wore red, white, and blue and said,"Happy 4th. How are the wife, kids, and dog?" My wife and I discussed the "Mother of all 4th of July parties" that my roommate and I threw in 1996 in Long Beach. We had over 50 guests, played beach volleyball, drank two 55 gallon trash cans of beer, 20 gallons of rum punch, and made several trips to 7-11 to clean out the rest of the beer stock. We cooked, set off fireworks, watched fireworks in the harbor. There were several sunburns, one fist fight, and two cars towed away. By our measure of success it was a smash hit party. I will celebrate differently now.

To me the 4th of July has become intensely personal. I sat and thought a lot yesterday. I sat under a willow tree tending the fire and playing with my son. My wife and he played in the back yard with water hoses and water toys. The pool is on the fritz and it didn't stop him one bit. He filled his water toys up and took turns soaking us both. My sister came over late in the day and we had dinner together. The meat came out perfect except for the brisket. It was a little tough but brisket is hard to cook well anyways. It was the best 4th of July I could imagine. Nothing public, just the back yard.

Everything I need in the world was in that back yard. Everything our founding fathers dreamed of was in that back yard. The reason we are in the fight in Iraq was in that back yard. Yep, it was the 4th of July all right and it was just what I needed.


Anonymous Fritz said...

"Everything I need in the world was in that back yard. Everything our founding fathers dreamed of was in that back yard. The reason we are in the fight in Iraq was in that back yard. Yep, it was the 4th of July all right and it was just what I needed".

Pretty much says it all doesn't it? Sad that a large percentage of the people in this country don't realize what you mean by that simple but full statement. As they go on drifting further away from the true meaning of not only the celebration of Independence day but life as we knew it here in the good ole USA we should be more and more concerned for the "T" man and his classmates about the future of this country. Keep an eye on Mexico and the results of the election there. It could be very meaningful.

Glad to hear you had the day you did. Hope there are many more like it. Thank you for making it possible for us to continue to celebrate everyday.

5:03 PM  
Blogger R Roberts said...

James: You keep posting stuff like this and it is gonna be really hard to come up with the usual pithy, smart ass comment. Sheesh.

Glad you are back with your family, even if it is just for R and R.

6:05 PM  
Anonymous Nick said...

Great Post. and here's to hoping every 4th is as yesterday was. peacefull. Thank You for your service and although you will never know me, know you are apreciated.

10:35 PM  
Blogger MonicaR said...

It's the perfect way to celebrate the holiday if you ask me.

I have to say that the local parade was quite touching. The AA T-ball, softball teams marched, we had a mummers band (woo-hoo! big time!!), the little kids with decorated bikes and trikes, but the best part was the fire trucks with their sirens on and blaring their horns. Totally thrilling!

God Bless America! God keep you and your lovely family.

7:38 AM  
Anonymous BigLou said...

Didnt break that many plates but did discover that Greek wine has no or very low sulfates content.Its been a great run my friend.Lets see what happens next.

12:46 PM  
Anonymous Don Cox said...

"Everything I need in the world was in that back yard. "____I think that is true of Iraqi families too, and you have helped them to get nearer to the peace and freedom that they need and deserve.

2:49 PM  
Anonymous MJ in Fl said...

Beautifully written and how very true. Thanks so much. MJ

12:18 AM  

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