ONCE UPON A TIME, when people filled a page with my words and a Brobdingnagian picture of my face, I pretended to be an American flag.

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Today is America’s birthday, but coronavirus might cause a few of its birthday parties to look a little different this year.

Since the 2020 celebrations might be a little more muted than normal, I decided to take a trip to the archives for a story about a Fourth of July past.

There’s a lot I’d change about how this story is written if I wrote it today, but I think it’s still a worth a holiday share.

It highlights some of my family’s normal traditions, and it offered a chance for reflections on Independence Day.

First published July 7, 2009 — and moved to WordPress in 2011 from its original home — here’s a story about fireworks and fire ants.

Happy Fourth of July, and God bless America.


This post is a response to Sue’s prompt, which is, “reflections.”

History has always fascinated me.

I’ve been interested in the Civil War since my family took a vacation to Gettysburg.

I thought I might write down my thoughts on the Confederate battle flag and statues, but I’ve decided to leave them for another day.

Instead, I’d like to go even farther into the past.

Here’s a quick story about how yesterday might influence today and tomorrow.

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A podcast episode I heard tonight took me back to the Lincoln Memorial steps.

When I stood on them last year I’d known giants of the Civil Rights Movement had also stood there.

Tonight, thanks to a bonus episode of The Washington Post’s “Presidential” podcast, which has episodes about United States president’s lives and leadership, I heard an earlier civil rights giant’s story in a new way.

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Today, I thought about one of the best opportunities I had as a journalist.

Every June 6 since 2011, my mind has drifted to the day I knocked on a door and what I heard from the man who answered.

I couldn’t find the full original story I wrote so some of the details may be a little off, but what follows is the short version from my memory.

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The Lord did not bless me with good eyesight.

When I got an eye test at school, I believe I had 20/70 vision.

I got glasses just in time for a family vacation to Pennsylvania.

It was my first trip to the North.

We went to places like Independence Hall, the Liberty Bell, Hersey Park and Gettysburg.

I saw it all.

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