Happy Fourth of July!
I wanted to write a post for today but I’m not doing anything super-cool this holiday (well, not compared to what I did last year) so I thought I’d write about… what I did last year.
Normally, my family spends the Fourth at my aunt and uncle’s house. We have a picnic, get sunburned, swim in a lake until our fingers and toes are wrinkly. It’s also a chance for me to hang out with my cousins – I have sixteen from that side of my family, but see most of them only at Christmas and/or the Fourth.
My family has spent the holiday that way for as far back as I can remember, barring one year when we visited Mackinac Island in Michigan. THAT WAS COOL AND I WANT TO GO BACK.
Mostly because I dreamed of acquiring my own island through nefarious means and then building a gigantic castle there.
Anyway. Where was I? Oh yes, my family usually stays close to home for the Fourth of July. But not always. Last year, I spent the Fourth in Washington, D.C. with a bunch of other kids as part of a 4-H event. (An event that, incidentally, my brother is currently participating in. I miss him.) The trip was a week long and we did so many amazing things, but the Fourth was by far my favorite day of the trip.
And for some reason, I never wrote about that trip here, so I’d like to tell you about a little bit of it now.
On the morning of the Fourth of July, the Indiana 4-H delegation explored the Smithsonian museums on the National Mall. At that point the trip was almost over (we were back home on the sixth) so I’d made some friends by then. The 4-Hers were allowed to wander off on their own without chaperones as long as we stayed in groups of three, so Jake, Samantha, and I wandered into museum after museum.
I believe we visited the Natural History Museum and some art galleries – I highly recommend the Asian Art museums because A) their art is beautiful and B) hardly anyone visits them so it’s very quiet and peaceful inside.
After walking past the White House and taking some pictures there, we ate boxed lunches near the National Archives and then walked over to the Museum of American History. The time we spent there was the first of two highlights from an already great day. We looked a lot of stuff there but what I most remember is seeing the original Star-Spangled Banner. I would recommend taking a look – it’s much, much, much bigger than you think. On the other hand, I wouldn’t recommend seeing it on the Fourth – everyone wants to see it that day! The exhibit hall becomes way too busy!
After that, we went out on the museum’s balcony to watch the parade. It was SO COOL, with group after group walking by – we thought the marching bands would never end – and TONS of people milling around. More than once, the three of us were separated from each other in the crowds. Oops.
The three of us hung out on the Mall for most of the afternoon until about four o’clock, when we met up with the other kids back at the bus. From there, we went to dinner and then the Iwo Jima Memorial in Arlington, Virginia – the second highlight of the day. We spread out blankets and played cards until the sky was dark.
And then we watched as the fireworks were launched from across the river in D.C.
And it was amazing.
Honestly, I think that 2013’s Fourth of July was one of the best days of my life so far. I saw a lot of cool things that day. I had fun. I may not have spent the day with my family, but I did hang out with some pretty nice people. That wasn’t an experience I ever thought I would have and as I watched fireworks burst into color over the Washington Monument I thought, “Wow, I’m so lucky to be here.”
What is the coolest thing you’ve ever done for the Fourth of July?
P.S. Here’s some music for you! This is Jimi Hendrix’s 1969 cover of “The Star-Spangled Banner” on electric guitar. It is SO MUCH BETTER than, well, any other version. In my opinion. Enjoy!