Tonight I took my wife and daughter to the Fourth of July fireworks and symphony performance downtown. As the orchestra played the theme songs for the branches of the armed forces, the members of each particular branch were asked to stand.

It wasn't too long ago that I'd have been booing and hissing the evil military machine. Well, it was a long time ago if you're very young, but it doesn't seem that long to me. Now I feel a great deal of gratitude towards each and every person who served this country. It won't be too long, you know, until there will be no war veterans among us. This will not be a good thing. To have put your life on the line for this country is the only way many of us will ever appreciate what it means to have the freedom we enjoy here.

It was a different sort of evening in another way, too. My daughter met this guy recently at a two-week camp she went to (she's fourteen), and he had his parents drive quite a ways to be at this event. They went off and spent a couple of hours alone. It was very strange for me to see my little girl holding hands with a guy and kissing him goodbye. Not that I'm not aware that it's time for that sort of stuff: It's just that theory and reality sometimes clash.

Then, to top it off, I had taken my little Lhasa Apso down there with us and, on the way home, near our house, we damn near ran over a lost dog. I stop and pick it up. It's got a collar but no name, and guess what kind of dog it is? Yeah, a Lhasa. I'll just keep it and run and ad in the paper until we find it's owner.

So, what lessons have we learned here, dannye?

  1. Love your country.
  2. Let your daughter go.
  3. Be kind to small animals.

Is there more to life than that? I hope not, 'cause I'm about worn out.

I don't know.. this is my very first time here and I am confused beyond belief. So I guess I'll give it a random shot, here goes nothing.

I am very excited for the 4th of july.

We all go to Simi High and fight for an inch of grass to set up our picnic blanket and our lawn chairs that we only use one day a year, and the adults break out the beer and the watermelon. My baby sister hangs with her little posse and a friend and I just walk around the track for hours on end. We have the biggest smiles on our faces as we see people we'd rather not while a bunch of snotty brats run around, play catch, lobby their parents for some crappy, poisonous cotton candy, and check out the DARE truck. Lousy bands play, people are rude, everyone has bought a glow stick, and it's just so disgustingly dumb, that it's the most incredible day ever and I wouldn't spend my 4th of July any other way.

I guess I love it so much because it's tradition and I'm always overcome by an overwhelming feeling of patriotism for everything- hotdogs, baseball, lemonade, electric guitar, karaoke, line dancing, Bakersfield, apple pie, and country music- and I'm fucking proud to be an American.

It really brings me back to my roots- the roots that mainly reside in Arkansas and Hodel's. Those greasy food-eating, Buck Owen's Crystal Palace dancing, country music lovin', heart-attack prone, southern accent bearing, family members of mine. They shape me to be who I truly am. What a scary thought.

Then it gets dark and everybody shuts the hell up so we can watch the same firework presentation that we've seen for the past five years and so we can all sing the same anthem that we have for ages. After that's over, we all cram in our cars to get the heck outta there because we're all embarrassed for feeling so complete, so content, and so wonderful... then I can lay in bed and smile because I've just had the lamest but most incredible day...and it won't come again for another year.

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