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4 Things I Want My Kids to Know About the Fourth of July

Count me in! I am a complete sucker for July 4th.

At my town’s Fourth of July parade I am awash in goose bumps while listening to the high school band trying hard to keep their feet moving and their lips working in unison.

My family is together, and that feeling of unity spreads further. We are together with our town, and also millions of other Americans celebrating across the country. That is enough to put a smile on my face.

As I watch the boy scout troops hold up their crooked banners and the town’s dancers doing cartwheels, my American flag waves manically. And the parade is only the beginning.

At night come the fireworks. I offer loud “oohs” and “aahs,” firmly believing that the sounds effects make the show even better. And this is after I have slathered my corn on the cob with butter, bitten into a hot dog I don’t often let myself eat, and I sampled the homemade chocolate chips cookies… yum.

July 4th is a holiday for the masses, by the masses, celebrating the masses – the masses from an amazing place, America.
My love for the holiday has trickled down to my kids, but there are a few things I want them to actually know about the July 4th holiday. 

Here they are:

1.) That they know that one of the most important sentences in our American history comes from the Declaration of Independence, and that was ratified on July 4th, 1776. I would hope that they learn about it in school, but since they are not in school, it’s worth a reminder at home. That sentence being: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness.” As a kid I was always amazed that the Founders were able to get it so right, so long ago. That’s important thing for a kid to consider. What is progress?

2.) That being a kid, in the summer, on July 4th and watching fireworks is about the best it will ever get. The freedom of having no school, the long, warm sunny days, the picnics outside on a patch of green grass, the amazing colorful light-show overhead when it finally, finally gets dark… these are good, good days.

3.) Don’t play with fireworks. I learned this lesson when I was nine. My older cousin, Alex, along with some friends, stuck a firecracker into the ground and lit it. There was a long delay and it didn’t appear to be working. He went back, looked down, and BOOM. The firecracker went off in his face. He was incredibly lucky his eyesight wasn’t effected, but his face was burned. What I remember most was that his eyebrows were scorched off. The no-eyebrow thing was enough for this young chicken to be forever scared off fireworks.

4.) That my kids live in the greatest country on the planet, in the history of the planet, and that they should feel very, very thankful for that. My kids won the birth lottery. It would be very different for them had they been born elsewhere. They need to know how lucky they are and to thank their lucky stars that they are American.

Jennifer Quasha is a writer and most recently the co-author of "Chicken Soup for the Soul: My Dog's Life: 101 Stories about the Ages and Stages of our Canine Companions" and "Chicken Soup of the Soul: My Cat's Life: 101 Stories about the Ages and Stages of our Feline Family Members." Check out her website at www.jenniferquasha.com.