Part 1: The Flag Raising
The day started out bright and early with a pancake and sausage breakfast associated with a flag-raising ceremony at our church. The sobering confluence of religious ideal and energetic patriotism felt there reminded us that both our spiritual and our temporal freedoms were purchased by sacrifices made by others, even the sacrifice of their very blood. We are grateful for the blood of our Savior and the blood of Patriots- the extreme cost for the freedoms we enjoy today, and hope that the memory of the price paid never grows dim in our hearts and minds.
Part 2: The Parade
We went from the ward breakfast to Independence Parkway in Plano to watch the Plano City Parade. The Plano parade is a fantastic one to attend- if anyone is ever in Texas for the Fourth of July, I highly recommend it. It helped us to again reflect on our precious freedoms as we saw veterans, fire fighters, policemen, community dignitaries, representatives from various political parties, and disciples of various Christian and other religions marching by. Of course, there were also clowns, floats, bubbles, marching bands, loud fog horns, classic cars and motorcyles, and plenty of candy tossed out for the kids. I think both Andrea and I got a little choked up at times as we waved our American flags with our children for the soldiers who sacrifice much and generally basked in the rays of July freedom sunshine. Here are a few pictures of the kids at the Plano Parade:
(P.S. We note with serious chagrine the shocking dearth of pictures of Andrea- Jordan will try to do better at taking pictures too so that Andrea appears- she is definitely easier to look at!)
Part 3: The Lunch and Rest
After the Parade, we headed out for some all-American (and, infinitely more importantly, TEXAN) barbecue at Dickeys. We enjoyed an assortment of meats, sides like mashed potatoes, baked potato casserole, barbecue beans, jalapeno beans, potato salad, mac & cheese, all topped off with Dickey's delicious regular, sweet and spicy barbecue sauces. We topped it off with soft-serve vanilla ice cream, always included in the price of every meal at Dickeys. Here is a picture of an all-American boy (Matthew) enjoying his Fourth of July Dickeys treat:
After lunch, we headed home for some rest before proceeding with the rest of the day's festivities.
Part 4: The Pool Party
Once we had sufficiently recuperated from our busy morning and stuffing lunch, we got into our swimsuits and headed over to our friends' home (two doors down) for an afternoon of fun and swimming with the our friends and neighbors from around our neighborhood. The pool was packed with kids, the coooler with cold drinks, the barbecue with good food, and the chairs with chatting adults, all celebrating under the hot Texas, July sun.
After swimming for a while, the kids enjoyed soaking Andrea and me with water balloons, usually at most unexpected times. Hannah was the sneakiest, one time waiting for me outside the back door for probably over five minutes to soak me with a water balloon and a squirting (i.e., untied) water balloon as I came out of the house with a plate full of food! Every time I dried off again, another one of my four kids would suddenly appear, get me dripping wet again, then run away laughing hysterically before I could gather my senses and throw them into the pool (I did manage to get Leah once). None of the other adults there were quite as soaked time and time again- of course, none of them had four children. Getting wet at pool parties is just one of the hazards of fruitful loins, I suppose.
We partied into the twilight hours, but then it was time for fireworks.
Part 5: The Fireworks
As dusk fell, the pool party disbanded and everyone headed back home to change into dry clothes so that we could go see the Fourth of July fireworks. We are lucky to live right beside the main 500 acre park in Richardson, Texas (Breckinridge Park) where they have the big Richardson fireworks show every year. We walked across the street to the park with some church friends who parked at our house, and set up our blankets on a promising spot of grass situated on a bluff that overlooked the rest of the park. We were not disappointed.
The fireworks began at 9:45 pm and were accompanied by live (Richardson Community Band) and pre-recorded music. Hearing the loud booms accompanied by patriotic music, Andrea and I both got a bit choked up again as we thought of the artillery in the battles fought for this country represented by the colorful spectacle of fireworks exploding above us. Our kids were also mesmerized by the brilliant (and loud) display- not one was scared in the least.
As we tucked the exhausted kids into bed at the end of the celebratory, fun-filled and sobering day, Leah sleepily whispered to me that she liked the Fourth of July almost as much as Christmas. Indeed.