Celebrating Independence Together

By E. Adam Porter

 

The first week in July, every year, my extended family gathers at the beach in my hometown for a weeklong reunion. It’s a wonderful, relaxing time of sharing life together, filled with the familiar aromas of salt air, sunscreen, and delicious grilled meat; of days spent building sandcastles with the little ones and being buried in the sand; of shared jokes and singing, of snorkeling, fishing, spectacular skimboarding wipeouts, walks on the beach, and magnificent sunsets.

We catch up with each other, talk about days gone by, and pass our collective wisdom along to the young ones. The kids giggle as we demonstrate the stingray shuffle, do their best to listen to our lectures about the dangers of riptides, and experience temporary hearing loss when reminded they need another application of sunblock. We collect shells and sand dollars, spot pods of dolphin, and experience the patience-testing chore of untangling an open reel.

Talking with my brothers and our friends, we recall when we were kids with sandy shorts and pruny fingers, begging for Just Five More Minutes swimming in the water or playing in the sand. Those days really don’t seem so long ago… until my niece runs by, chasing her two-year-old daughter. I glance at my brother, thinking: “Wasn’t that us, just yesterday?”

Mom sits under the umbrella and shares stories about the island the way it used to be. We all chime in, reminiscing about fishing off the city pier and stores with shell parking lots. About coquina concrete and small, single-story homes with jalousie windows. The soda bottle vending machine at the bike shop. Building crab traps in the yard, smoked mullet and fried grouper back when the fishing was really good. Sunday afternoons trading stories with the liveaboards at the marina and weekdays cruising the bay after school.

The nostalgia is hypnotic and cathartic, a welcome port in the storms of life, and an oral history of The Way We Were. As kids, we never realized we were collecting memories, but now we’re passing that torch to our children and grandchildren… or would, if we could get them out of the water (five more minutes, pleeeeeeeeezzz!).

During this week, on July 4th, my family comes together with everyone on the island and across the country to commemorate our Founding Fathers’ Declaration of Independence from tyranny. It is, for the kids and for me, one of the best days of Family Beach Week, every year.

The celebration begins with the annual Independence Day Parade, watching the Privateers cruise their benevolent pirate ship down the main drag, tossing beads and firing their water cannons. Far below, on the sidewalk, the kids — armed to the teeth with Super Soakers — give as good as they get.

Later that evening, thousands of tourists and locals line the strand to enjoy one of the most impressive fireworks displays anywhere. Seven miles of sky flowers paint the twilight with booming radiance from horizon to horizon. Beneath that technicolor sky, the kids laugh and dance and sing, waving sparklers to write their names on the night.

Once again, watching them takes me back. When I lean forward to offer a few terse warnings about firework safety, I hear echoes of my parents. And that gets me thinking about how time and circumstance transforms accident-prone children gleefully waving flaming sticks into parents who repeat cautionary tales before lighting similar sticks for their own kids.

Further up the beach, close to the water line, the older teens and twenty-somethings have their own lighters, as well as much larger and more dynamic flaming sticks. The older adults toss them a few cursory safety tips, which they largely ignore. They’ve heard it all before. Soon, though, someone hollers and comes running for some ice from the cooler. We old guys glance at each other and grin. Sometimes, singed fingers are the best way to reinforce the correlation of responsibility and freedom.

And, that gets me thinking about the birthright our Founding Fathers have passed down to us. Defending our Independence is a shared responsibility, a commission handed down by that first generation of Americans. The Founders declared that freedom is every human’s indisputable right. Then they risked everything to prove it, because maintaining freedom requires personal responsibility. Something I remind my boys at every opportunity. Independence is the right of every person, and it’s worth celebrating. It’s also worth defending… I’m glad we’re able to do both together.

Happy Independence Day. 

 

 

0 Comments

Submit a Comment

August 2022 NEWS is HOT off the PRESS!

August 2022 NEWS is HOT off the PRESS!

In this issue… Learn how volunteers here and abroad are helping Ukrainian refugees, meet some local teens investing in our community, catch the raptor show at the Florida Aquarium, celebrate our Independence, raise a nesting pole with the...

Steps in Coral Conservation Celebrated

Steps in Coral Conservation Celebrated

Newly out-planted mountainous star coral (Orbicella faveolata) are growing in Biscayne National Park (BNP). This important act of conservation is a direct result of a partnership between The Florida Aquarium and Biscayne National Park. As an important...

July 2022 NEWS is HOT off the PRESS!

July 2022 NEWS is HOT off the PRESS!

In this issue… Save the date for SCCCA Family Fun Day, welcome Jeff Parsons to the SCCCA Board, enjoy the beauty of local nesting birds, celebrate a truly great photo exhibit, catch up on local road improvements, remember our veterans as we...

Making History at the Olympics

Making History at the Olympics

Making History at the OlympicsBy Kai Rambow When Ana Zolotic won her gold medal match, she was so exuberant NBC showed her reaction to winning for several days.  It all started quite differently. “We had to enter an after school...

June 2022 NEWS is HOT off the PRESS!

June 2022 NEWS is HOT off the PRESS!

In this issue… Discover a new ER in SCC, meet the new SCCCA director, celebrate with Cygnet, commemorate Earth Day, take a low and slow balloon cruise, marvel at the world’s largest flamingo, catch up on Entertainment News, save the date for...

New Freestanding ER in SCC

New Freestanding ER in SCC

New Freestanding ER in SCC On May 11, Manatee Memorial Hospital debuted a new freestanding emergency room in our community: The ER at Sun City Center. The new ER, located in front of Walmart at 16504 S. U.S. 301, will expand access to emergency...

Cygnet Yacht Club Awards

Cygnet Yacht Club Awards

Cygnet Yacht Club AwardsBy Paula Lickfeldt, Photo by Rich Link On May 3, the members of the Cygnet Yacht Club had dinner at Club Renaissance. They had a night of socializing and awarded the trophies that the members had won the month before....

Meet Your Neighbor: Young Chung-Hall

Meet Your Neighbor: Young Chung-Hall

Meet Your Neighbor: Young Chung-HallBy Ilona Merritt It was a cool morning when I met Young in the Tillers & Toilers Garden. She radiated warmth and friendliness, and it turned out to be one of the most exciting and informative visits I...

Our Earth Day Celebration

Our Earth Day Celebration

Our Earth Day CelebrationBy Diane M. Loeffler April 22 was Earth Day. Once again, the local Audubon Club celebrated the day at the West Campus Nature Trails with tours of our own little piece of “the real Florida.” Free fruit, snacks, water, a...

Houseboating on the St. Johns River

Houseboating on the St. Johns River

Houseboating on the St. Johns River By Ilona Merritt If you’re looking for entertainment, shopping, or fancy restaurants on your vacation, this one is not for you. However, if you ever wanted a truly relaxing holiday, houseboating on the St....

May 2022 NEWS is HOT off the PRESS!

May 2022 NEWS is HOT off the PRESS!

In this issue… Check out the Sew’n Sews baby shower benefit, meet the new SCC Activities Director, enjoy Faye McKeown’s art, go Trail Blazing, learn about CA Club facility use, take off in a B-29, clean up with the Boy Scouts, bounce back...

October 2022 NEWS is HOT off the PRESS!

October 2022 NEWS is HOT off the PRESS!

First and foremost, all of us at The News hope that all of you reading this came through Hurricane Ian healthy and safe. Our News team fared well, considering. A few trees and power lines down, loss of power, and the general inconveniences of temporarily...

September 2022 NEWS is HOT off the PRESS!

September 2022 NEWS is HOT off the PRESS!

In this issue… Run with the Hemingways, explore the new ER at Sun City Center, take a Night Out with the sheriff’s department, see how SCC is Sprucing Up, celebrate Photo Club competition winners, get updated on the Long Range Plan, make some...

Local Lookalikes Run With the Hemingways

Local Lookalikes Run With the Hemingways

Local Lookalikes Run With the HemingwaysBy Kai Rambow “Always do sober what you said you’d do drunk. That will teach you to keep your mouth shut.” – Ernest Hemingway“There might have been some alcohol involved,” recalled Gary Mull.  Mull...

Community Expo Showcases ER at Sun City Center

Community Expo Showcases ER at Sun City Center

Community Expo Showcases ER at Sun City CenterBy Bob Sanchez The ER at Sun City Center hosted a Community Expo to show off the brand-new facility to the public. The free-standing building is an extension of Manatee Memorial Hospital....

5th Annual SCC Relay for Life Surpasses Goal

5th Annual SCC Relay for Life Surpasses Goal

5th Annual SCC Relay for Life Surpasses Goal By Bob Sanchez The 5th annual SCC Mini-Relay for Life drew hundreds to St. Andrew’s Presbyterian Church on July 29 to raise money in the fight against cancer. The event raised $16,757.39, easily...

August 2022 NEWS is HOT off the PRESS!

August 2022 NEWS is HOT off the PRESS!

In this issue… Learn how volunteers here and abroad are helping Ukrainian refugees, meet some local teens investing in our community, catch the raptor show at the Florida Aquarium, celebrate our Independence, raise a nesting pole with the...