4th of July Tradition

Our family has celebrated July 4th on Whidbey Island for almost 20 years. Whidbey is about 30 miles north of Seattle and getting there requires a 20 minute ferry ride – sometimes with a long wait for the next boat. But once that short trip begins, I’m able to switch over to “island time” which brings with it a whole different perspective. A Whidbey 4th of July takes that process to yet another level as the entire island seemingly fills up with people ready to celebrate.

DSCN0700At noon on July 4th, our little street has a very fun family parade, complete with a flag-draped pick-up truck throwing candy to the kids, people lining the sides of the road, and popsicles for all at the end of the walk. We usually play some golf, take our dog, Roscoe, for a long walk on the beach, and go for a bike ride. After a dinner of hamburgers and hot dogs off the grill – perhaps a cliché but still a great way to celebrate – we head down to the beach and watch the fireworks.

And these fireworks are not your typical 20 minute show produced by professionals with some music on a local FM station. Instead everyone builds their own bonfire on the beach and fires off their own fireworks from about 10pm to midnight. There is a bit of a competition to see who can put on the biggest display and sometimes you don’t know where to look as it feels like bombs are going off in every direction. It is quite a spectacle. Saturday was no different with an incredible display of pyrotechnics, minus the bonfires because of a burn ban.


Useless Bay | Whidbey Island, WA

When I woke up this morning I was thinking about that huge celebratory outpouring and wondered if we took time to pause and remember what it was all about. Patriotism may be old-fashioned but the fact remains that as Americans we are incredibly fortunate, and it would do us well to recall all of those who sacrificed at the formation of our country. This segment {source unknown} which follows that was forwarded to me in an email tells an amazing story – one that should stay in our minds as we continue to wave our flags and watch the bombs bursting in air.

Have you ever wondered what happened to the 56 men
who signed the Declaration of Independence? Their story. . .

Five signers were captured by the British as traitors,
and tortured before they died.

Twelve had their homes ransacked and burned.

Two lost their sons serving in the Revolutionary Army;
another had two sons captured.

Nine of the 56 fought and died from wounds or
hardships of the Revolutionary War.

They signed and they pledged their lives, their fortunes,
and their sacred honor.

What kind of men were they?

Twenty-four were lawyers and jurists.

Eleven were merchants.

Nine were farmers and large plantation owners;
men of means, well educated.

But they signed the Declaration of Independence
knowing full well that the penalty would be death if
they were captured.

Carter Braxton of Virginia, a wealthy planter and
trader, saw his ships swept from the seas by the
British Navy. He sold his home and properties to
pay his debts, and died in rags.

Thomas McKeam was so hounded by the British
that he was forced to move his family almost constantly.
He served in the Congress without pay, and his family
was kept in hiding. His possessions were taken from him,
and poverty was his reward.

Vandals or soldiers looted the properties of Dillery, Hall, Clymer,
Walton , Gwinnett, Heyward, Ruttledge, and Middleton.

At the battle of Yorktown, Thomas Nelson, Jr., noted that
the British General Cornwallis   had taken over the Nelson
home for his headquarters. He quietly urged General
George Washington to open fire. The home was destroyed,
and Nelson died bankrupt.

Francis Lewis had his home and properties destroyed.
The enemy jailed his wife, and she died within a few months.

John Hart was driven from his wife’s bedside as she was dying.
Their 13 children fled for their lives. His fields and his gristmill
were laid to waste. For more than a year he lived in forests
and caves, returning home to find his wife dead and his
children vanished.

So, take a few minutes while enjoying your 4th of July holiday and
silently thank these patriots. It’s not much to ask for the price they paid.

Remember: freedom is never free!

-Source Unknown