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Everybody enjoys celebrating the 4th of July. July 4th of 1776 was the day our country claimed our independence from Britain and democracy was born. 

In the pre-revolutionary years, colonists held annual celebrations of the king's birthday, which traditionally included the ringing of bells, bonfires, processions, and speech making. During the summer of 1776 some of the colonists celebrated the birth of our country’s independence by holding mock funerals for King George III. The mock funerals symbolized the end of the monarchy's hold on America and the triumph of liberty. The event included parades, concerts, bonfires and the firing of cannons and muskets. The day accompanied the first public reading of the Declaration of Independence after it was adopted. Philadelphia held the first annual commemoration of our Independence on July 4th, 1777, while congress was still occupied with the ongoing war. In 1778, George Washington issued double rations of rum to all his soldiers to mark the anniversary of our country’s independence.

Massachusetts became the first state to make July 4th an official state holiday, which was several months before the key American victory at Yorktown in 1781. The tradition of this patriotic celebration became even more widespread after the War of 1812. John Adams felt the celebration should include pomp and parade, games, sports, guns, bells, bonfires and illuminations from one end of the continent to the other.

In 1870, the United States Congress made the 4th of July a federal holiday. Then in 1941, this provision was expanded to grant a paid holiday to all federal employees. Sadly, over the years, the political importance of the 4th of July holiday declined, but Independence Day remains an important national holiday and a symbol of our patriotism.

Today, thousands of people leave their homeland and come to America, "The land of the free and the home of the brave," so they can begin their American dream.

This wonderful country of ours is truly a diverse nation made up of dynamic people and each year on the 4th of July, Americans continue to celebrate their freedom and independence.

The 4th of July falls in the middle of the summer, and has become a major focus of leisure activities and a common occasion for family get-togethers. Many people look forward to barbecues and picnics with their family and friends, as well as all the fireworks. I do understand that we are celebrating our country’s birthday, but I can't help think that shooting off fireworks is hyporcritical in a way. It is hard for me to justify spending untold amounts of money on tremendous blasts of explosives, more or less mimicking the wars our patriots have fought and died in.

Couldn't that money be spent in much better ways? We want to celebrate and we do, but I think our major focus should be to remember why we do.

Maybe those who have served in our country’s armed forces don't agree, but to me I would believe these servicemen and women would have had more than enough explosives, guns shooting, etc. during their tour of duty so that it would be a given reminder of those wars.

I think of a friend of mine who used to write from Vietnam about how the night could be so quiet. Stars were shining brightly in the dark, but then an explosion would break out in a blast of "fireworks," the real stuff. It wasn't enjoyable!

I also think of my cousin, Jim Hanson, and his buddies who went to Normandy to visit the place where Sgt. York fought a battle all his own. Still today, much of the farm and in that area still lays idle as people are still dying from unexploded ammo that had been found on the farmland.

Incidents like these is why it still bothers me to see fireworks blasting in the sky. I think of all the people who hid in storm cellars, scared for their lives, as well as about the many whose lives were taken. Yes, fireworks are beautiful, but I believe the glory of the 4th of July is the man who raised our American flag up on that first 4th of July.

Then there is the safety angle. Before there were restrictions on who could legally light fireworks, my mother and her brother were taught to be especially careful when this holiday arrived each year. Sometimes firecrackers didn't go off as they were supposed to, so they would then split the firecrackers in two and light them, which would provide a "sizzler." And of course, that alternative was not a very good thing to do as one of those sizzlers almost put someone's eye out before they decided their idea was not a very good one.

There is also a funny story my mother remembers, but not for laughing, as we often say, that I would like to share. At one time there was an outdoor "biffy" at the Sportsman's Club at Beaver Lake. One lady went in to use it. A trickster in the bunch she was with put a firecracker in a tin can and lit it behind the outdoor toilet. Of course when the firecracker went off in the tin can the sound was much more explosive. And as a result, the lady said she had had enough and made her man take her home for a change of clothes; enough said.

I hope that if people in our area plan to set off any fireworks during this years' holiday that they will be extremely careful. The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission recently reported that more than 11,000 people across our great country were treated for fireworks related injuries in 2013. Most of the injuries involved the face, eyes, and ears, and of that total 40% of those injured were children under 15. We don't want people we know ending up in emergency rooms suffering from fireworks related injuries. I hope that we can all remember the reason we celebrate this special day!

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Birthdays and anniversaries:

• Thursday, July 2nd: John & Wendy Schultz, Delbert & Judy Karsjens, Leslie (Gatton) & David Hecker, Sidney Skroch, Christopher Matthew Wacek, Mary Ann Ewing, Stacy Shaunce, David Beck, Chad Ritz, Wilma Arbogast, Melissa Quaintance and Tony H. Seykora

• Friday, July 3rd: Danika Marie Jensen, Lorry Pelzl, Amy Storlie, Amy Walterman, Cynthia Nelson, Sara & Chris Ihrke, Rachel & Michael Schmidt, Phillip & Karen Briggs

• Saturday, July 4th: Happy 4th of July!  Bethany Miller, Carlie Sevcik, Pam Nelson, Trina Churchill, Ellie Rose Meiners, Brent Meiners, Brian Meiners, Denise & Scott McGowan

• Sunday, July 5th: Emma Harold, Brenlee Anne Knudsen, Emma Harold, Abby Harold, Jessica Wayne, Brad Tufte, Burt Scripture, Chad Sommer, Russell Thostenson, Rhonda Grunwald, Issac Paulson, Danny Burns

• Monday, July 6th: Kylie Titus, Brenlee Knudsen, Austin Nord, Linda Aronson, Scott Briggs, Gary Grosland, Wendy Kamerer, Travis Hanson, Paul Richards, Darrin Stadheim, James Van Riper, Kyle & Bethany Miller

• Tuesday, July 7th: Collin Christensen, Elizabeth Eder, Cheryl Boverhuis, Casey Johnson, Chad Quam, Scott Reese, Jon Spatenka, Anna Jacobson, David Anderson, DeAnn Skroch    

• Wednesday, July 8th: Zaine Augustine Briedenbach, Parker John & Payton Lorraine Bunn, Barb Hagen, Al Lee, Adam Arends, Jacob Terry Phillips, Deacon Thomas Lang, Summer Paulson, Deb Jacobs, Marlene Jensen

• Thursday, July 9th: Larry Otto, Corey Pence, Mavis Knudtson, Joni Calderon, Lisa Worke, Dale Peterson, Jenny Bunn, Julie & Dean Hunt, Jennifer & David Lageson

• Friday, July 10th:  Kalene Larson, Ethan Green, Brett Dunlap, Sally Hanson Sadden, Suzanne Skroch Larkin, Carley Ray Talamantes, Holly Swearingen, Anna Uetcsh, Todd Borchert, Kym Cameron, Paulette Nelson, Ryan & Amy Crabtree their 8th, Dustin & Jenna Quimby

Hope you have a day filled with things that make you smile!

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