Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Fourth of July Nostalgia

The impetus for this blog post came unexpectedly on July 1. I was pulling a favorite sweat shirt over my head, the one with the word, PHILADELPHIA, in medium-sized print across its front. It was a drizzly Pacific Northwest day, perfect for staying cozy inside. As I zipped up my jeans, I was mentally back in Philadelphia during the summer of July, 1990 and in the store where I had purchased the shirt. The days of that 8 week trip began to resurface. There were many who made the steps I took -- steps amidst the landmarks that were the origin of our United States of America -- among the most memorable of my life.

It was not my first time to be on the east coast of the United States. I had lived there at different times during my growing up years. I had also worked in Washington, D.C. as a young adult. I love the history prevalent in those areas and my own history that makes them a part of me.

That journey began when I was awarded a scholarship to travel for the purpose of writing curriculum for my students -- curriculum based on the history of our beloved country. What a God ordained gift this was to me.

In my reverie moments, I recalled other Fourth of Julys spent in these surroundings. When I was a child, my family [along with many others] would sit on the lawn of the Washington monument to watch the fireworks display. That was before the current holiday concerts and television coverage in D.C. marking the date -- all fine -- but I also loved the simpler times of celebration. During my trip in 1990, I spent the evening of the Fourth of July on the grounds of Williamsburg in a small cottage, sitting with a woman and graduate students she was mentoring that summer. As the drum and fife corps marched down the pavement and past her window, we went out to the front yard and watched the fireworks beautifully displayed in this breathtaking setting.
My memories stretched on over this time frame of which I write and American history’s timeline from 1607 through the Civil War and on into the present day landmarks of our nation’s capital: Jamestown, Williamsburg, Monticello, Gettysburg, Philadelphia, Washington, D.C., Plymouth, Massachusetts. I was steeped in our country’s past, each stop and stay as a candle burning brightly, illuminating growth and struggles.
I felt deep appreciation for those who took it upon themselves, for various reasons, to build “the land of the free and the home of the brave”. Not all were free during those years and some still fight for freedoms but we have a blueprint and goals. If we are wise, we can learn from our history as we reach towards the skies with our red, white, and blue hopes for a stronger nation.
I look at the dedication and dreams of those who set foot here over four hundred years ago and those who followed. Each carried a light and gifts to contribute, as do each of us. What better time to ponder what we can give than on this celebration day as we thank God for, and ask Him to bless America!

 Sing with the Wind 
Here. . .where the ageless hills reach upward
to the ageless stars. . .here where a century
is measured as a day. . .I hold these numbered
years called life within my trembling hands
. . .these fragile years touched with wonder
and with mystery. . .
               there seems to be so little time
in which to learn the purpose for our living
. . .and yet. . .in the changeless pattern of
things that are to be. . .there must be both
meaning and purpose. . .or we would be insen-
sitive to the healing power of beauty . . .
and the sustaining power of love. . .
                         perhaps I am here to touch but 
a single heart. . .or to fill a single need. . .
or to share my strength with one who needs 
a shield against a hostile world. . .
                        I do not know. . . perhaps it is 
destined that I should not know. . .but. . .
another may know. . .
                            and understand. . .
                                                  and be grateful.
---Winston O. Abbott

Here, in song, is a tribute to those whose labors formed our nation and a reminder to each of us to keep the flame of freedom’s hope burning brightly for each other and for our country.

performed by Linda Eder


  1. I LOVE Candle in the Window and that Winston O. Abbott piece is just beautiful: the words about being here to touch but a single heart or fill a single need touches my spirit trememdously - something we should ALL strive for.

  2. Shelby - thanks for these comments. I love this music, too and am a bif Linda Eder fan and I knew right away that this song would go with my message. It was written by her husband, now ex-husband, for a B'way show set in the colonial times. It was a custom then to put a candle in the window to let loved ones returning from the war know that they were being prayed for and waited for, as well. I found the poetry book by Abbott on this wonderful east coast trip I share -found it in a small bookshop in Plymouth, MA so this nostalgic piece is even more full of nostalgia for me!


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