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From the Publisher's Desk – Please me a 'Fourth' (July 1, 2015 issue)

Out of the peaceful silence came an alarming boom that seemed to split the air around me and shake the earth. I am not usually a vocal person but out of shear shock and panic I screamed loudly in panic. At that same moment I realized the noise was from the train.
Mom and I were down at the community garden last Thursday night. We have a plot in the land behind First Christian Church, which is just above the railroad yard and tracks. Although I have heard some loud noises from the train yard, I had never heard one quite like that. I suppose it was just a kickoff to the Fourth of July fireworks.
As I continued working, my mind ran back to childhood and the thrill and fascination with the Fourth and the fireworks at night. I wasn’t accustomed to the large displays seen today. My uncle would usually come up with a variety he had picked up at a small stand. We always saved the most expensive ones until the end and finale, expecting the most dramatic visual from them.
The fireworks we had were simple but they were impressive to this little boy. My uncle would always light the fuse to the small missile sitting perched for launch in the opening of a glass Coca-Cola bottle. It was thrilling to see them soar high and burst into a shower of light that would gracefully fall back to earth. It added a bit more excitement if the bottle fell over at the last minute, sending the rocket off to who knows where.
A few years later, I remember my cousin Karen and I, finding some leftover firecrackers. Sometimes we would take the pack apart and unwrap the string that held each individual one together in a bundle. Now we could have an extended length of fun with the individual pieces.
For some reason we were hunched down at the ground around a single firecracker trying to light the fuse, jump up and run. It doesn’t take “rocket science” to know how short those fuses are and that timing is crucial. However we neither one had studied rocket science in our pre-teen years or since, for that matter.
What added to the intensity was the fact that every time we lit a match, the wind would blow it out before we got it to the fuse. Maybe it was just my nervous, shaking hand waving it out. But, we needed more matches and Karen got up to run back to get them. I turned away to watch her about the time that the fuse apparently caught from the last match. The firecracker went off within a foot of me. I was fine but my ears didn’t stop ringing all day and I wreaked with the odor of gunpowder.
As I’ve gotten older,I have accepted the fact that fireworks and this guy are not a mix worth attempting. I also am amazed at the cost of them, especially the nicer ones. Sadly I do blow money but not by lighting it and shooting it into the sky.
As we approach this weekend and the Fourth of July, it brings many elements to many people. Families gather for cookouts or picnics. Area residents line the streets and fill the parking lots in Johnson City to watch the fireworks’ demonstration. Locals attend either the Flag Pond or Unicoi festivities and fireworks.
But let’s not forget what the day is all about, the celebration of our Freedom and the remembrance of all those who have carved it out, worked so hard to gain it and maintain it, who are currently fighting for it or have fought and died or survived. The cost has been great.
Come out Saturday and pay honor to some of our service men during the Unicoi County Chamber of Commerce’s 2nd Annual “Welcome Home Veterans” parade. The event will begin at 11 a.m. at Food Lion parking lot and travel down Main Avenue to Love Street, then turn onto Elm Street, ending at the Veteran’s Memorial Park. A complimentary hotdog lunch will be provided by the Town of Erwin for the veterans and their families.
Following are some interesting facts I found out about the Declaration of Independence and the Fourth of July.
Most signers actually signed the Declaration of Independence on Aug. 2, 1776. There were only two who signed on July 4.
Three of the first five presidents died on the Fourth of July. They are John Adams, Thomas Jefferson and James Monroe. In fact, Adams, the second president, and Jefferson, the third, died on the same day in 1826, the 50th anniversary.
Calvin Coolidge, the 30th president, was born on July 4, 1872.
It wasn’t until 1938 that the Fourth of July became a legal federal holiday.
There is apparently a message written upside down at the bottom of the signed document: “Original Declaration of Independence dated 4th July 1776.” It’s not known who wrote it or when. Since parchment was usually rolled up during the Revolutionary War years, it’s thought this memo served as a label.
However you decide to spend the day, stop at some point and recognize the freedom we have and the price that was paid for it. As a nation, we are blessed.