I’ve experienced some very special Fourths of July. I grew up in small-town Hannibal, Mo., where the Fourth is the centerpiece of National Tom Sawyer Days. With its parade, fence-painting contests, Tom Sawyer and Becky Thatcher lookalike pageants and raft races, no wonder my sister calls it “Americana on steroids.”
In our days in Miami, Fla., the Fourth is an opportunity to walk with neighbors, many of them native to other countries, to a seawall on Biscayne Bay. Together, we scan the horizon as some 10 different municipal fireworks’ displays light up the night.
And we’ve been fortunate to join Rappahannock neighbors several years recently for the community’s revived fireworks display. Hearing the rockets’ echo in and out of the hollows is something to cherish.
But last year, we visited the island seaport of Nantucket with Rapp neighbors Rick and Kaye Kohler and David and Cathie Shiff. There, in the bright cool morning of the Fourth, locals and visitors walked the cobblestone streets to gather at the historic, 200-year-old South Church for a most memorable event. Five citizens, bedecked in red, white and blue, read the Declaration of Independence and the Bill of Rights. Interspersed were patriotic songs, and everyone bravely joined in, on and off key. As a lifelong journalist, I got a lump in my throat when one citizen enumerated the Five Freedoms of the First Amendment: “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.”
I recommend you peaceably assemble this Fourth of July with your neighbors for a reinvention of the Nantucket event, Rappahannock-style, starting at 1 p.m. July 4 at Washington Baptist Church. [See this week’s “The Rapp” for details.]
It’s the start of a new tradition!
Larry “Bud” Meyer
Long Mountain Road