Everyone Likes Fireworks Except My Parents

Everyone Likes Fireworks–Except for Our parents Who Served

Our parents sacrificed so yours didn't have to.

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The America I see is different from the America you see.

I see toddler me sitting under the ironing board while my mom and dad starched their uniforms. I see my sister and I standing on a flight line with hundreds of other families waiting to see that specific black crop of hair belonging to our dad for the first time in months as all the airmen step off their plane. I see my mother's hand wipe away the tears on her cheeks when the National Anthem plays.

I see my parents when I see America.

We're a military family. I am actually the literal outcome of the United States Air Force.

Mom and Dad both got stationed to Sembach, Germany somewhere down the line post-Basic Training. After a marriage license in Denmark, an Airmen of the Year Award in Utah, and a baby girl in Georgia, the two (newly three) were re-stationed to good ole Germany and had me.

Obviously, you don't remember the baby years, but the first memory I believe I had was seeing Katie Couric on the Today show during 9/11. Mom told me years later when my memory had actually developed, that the whole base was on lockdown for days. Windows were drawn. Do not leave your house. Hide any and all signs you're American. A drive to work became four hours long because of all the heightened security. After the Twin Towers went down, everyone assumed an overseas base would be hit next. A second Pearl Harbor.

That would not be the only standbys for bombings my parents would face in their lifetimes.

Sometimes they weren't standbys.

Years later, the military re-stations us back in the good ole U S of A. We live in New Mexico now, and my sister and I attend Barry Elementary. This will be my first school and Megan's second. In the span of our lives in the American school system- I will have attended six schools, and Megan eight.

The military kid math is simple enough. Every four years, if you're lucky to not get stationed earlier than that, your family gets sent to live in a new state, with a new town, with a new house, and a new school, full of new kids that you'll move away from in T-minus 1,460 days. Better start saying your goodbyes.

That averages out to four best friends that you won't see the last day of school with, three states that are your "home state", two separate times your family was technically homeless because you had to move from your last home but didn't have a new state to move to yet, and one very non-specific but all-around American accent.

Additionally, the math gets a little harder when it's counting the days until your parent comes home from a deployment- or leaves. My parents have been deployed to Korea, Afghanistan, Diego Garcia. That adds up to about 40 months without one of my parents.

January 2005 to January 2006, my father was not there to see any of it.

Jump forward a few years, and the Memerys now live in *cue lassoing rope sound effect* Texas. My sister and I are attending Dyess Elementary- a school only an arm's length away from a base where all the military families sent their military kids. This school was so patriotic that it was named after the Air Force Base that was an arm's length away along with having its mascot be the ever-iconic Dyess jet.

At the end of every school year, our school would have a big "I Love America" show, and the highlight of the year was hearing the whole gymnasium erupt in the sound of parents and kids alike singing "The Salute to Armed Forces". Honestly, it's a bop, and I have no shame in saying that.

There, the military seemed like a unifying factor. We wore our red, white, and blue with as much pride as our baby-bodies could muster because we knew what it took from our moms and dads to have the right to wear them.

We also knew what it took from us, so they could get to work on time to work towards that right to wear them. Like in 6th grade, we'd all wake up at 5:30 a.m. to get to the Youth Center by 6:30 a.m. so Dad could be at work by 7:30 a.m., even though school started at 8:45 a.m.

Things were even worse when there was an Exercise on Base. An Exercise is when everyone on Base has to run through their plans in case of an emergency and strand their kids in those poor, deserted Youth Centers until at latest 9 p.m. Just Megan, me, and one late night staff member would heat up some hot pockets from the Snack Shack and sit quietly while Cartoon Network played until our weary parents, covered in Chem gear, finally picked us up.

Jump to the few years where my sister and I had to go through puberty without our mom or our dad.

Mom was gone at the beginning. She deployed to Afghanistan in my sixth-grade year and didn't come back until the following year when we changed schools, houses, hairstyles (Megan got the emo bangs), and gained 30 pounds each. I remember I didn't know how to put my earrings in when I was little, so I'd always go to her for help. I remember the day, end of summer when I did it by myself and I opened my mouth to yell "Mom!"

My mother would call me every Tuesday night as I sat on her side of her and my father's bed, so we could watch Glee together. Dad would always come in to go to sleep before the episode ended, so I'd say goodnight to Mom during the commercial break.

Dad was gone at the end. He deployed the end of my seventh-grade year and didn't come back until after many critical months when his absence began to have a toll on our development. When things got hard for Megan at School Number Five, she didn't want to turn to me or our mom. She wanted only her dad and he wasn't there, which left a lasting effect on her.

My mother told me recently how she wondered maybe if they left the military a little earlier, and didn't have to go on those unfortunately timed deployments if things would've been better with her. Would my parent's not leaving to serve this country spared her from the years of consequences she endured?

Does your parent ask you that question?

Thankfully after that deployment, Dad hit the mark. Twenty years in the military, retiring as Master Sergeant. Mom got out immediately after too with thirteen years as a Captain, but even though they left the job didn't mean that what they experienced in their 20 years would leave them alone.

They both can't sleep. They're terrible at it. Snore as if they're screaming, and when my dad wears his oxygen mask, as to help with that snoring, no matter how peaceful and deep his sleep is, he will pry that mask off as if there were hands on his throat.

It isn't called "serving your country" for nothing. My mother and father worked, and struggled, and gave so much of themselves to ensure we all saw another day as free Americans. My parents are two heroes amongst thousands who give and give and give day in and day out to keep that freedom for us all.

So yeah, we can't take my dad anywhere without him busting out the ole "Sorry to bother you, but we're military too. My wife and I are retired Air Force…" and while it makes getting the check or the receipt take soooo much longer, I love it because I know how hard those hands worked, what those eyes have seen, and how much he has earned the right to be proud of his country.

The America I see is different from the America you see.

I see America looking out at my mom and dad as an F-16 flies overhead. My mom calls that the "sound of freedom", but I think looking at them is.

Cover Image Credit:

https://www.pexels.com/photo/flag-america-patriotic-veteran-6895/

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10 Reasons Why You Should Be Proud To Be An American

I was born an American; I will live an American; I shall die an American.
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The Fourth of July is not just a day meant for shooting off fireworks. The Fourth of July is meant for celebrating the day that our nation became independent and the Declaration of Independence was signed.

With all of the difficulties and hard times our country is often faced with, it can often leave you wondering ”why should I be proud to be an American?” While America is not a perfect country, there is a lot that is right about this country that we might forget exists.

Here are ten reasons why I believe that you should be proud to be an American.

1. Freedom

We are the land of the free, because of the brave. America is unique because it is a free country. People are willing to fight and unfortunately, sometimes die for our country, just so it can remain free. As an American you have the freedom of speech, religion, the press, and the right to vote, just to name a few. America has many freedoms that are not enjoyed by other countries.

2. Opportunity

America offers practically endless opportunities. As an American you can attend college, get a degree, and a career in the field of your dreams. You can get a great education and learn as much as you would like to learn. As an American you have the opportunity to do whatever you want to do with your life. The United States allows individuals to pursue their dreams and visions.


3. Beautiful scenery

America is full of beautiful scenery. America has 50 different states that are all full of their own unique scenery. From sea to shining sea, countless national parks, to the cities and country side views, to amazing sunrises and sunsets, you will always find beautiful scenery in America.

4. Melting Pot

America is truly a melting pot. American history began with immigrants from other countries, who brought their cultures and diversity to this country. No other country is as diverse as the United States. America welcomes people from different countries, races, and religions.


5. Unity

The United States is truly united. When tragedy strikes, American citizens come together, do what they can to help, and show their support. The United States helps other countries when they are in crisis. The United States engages in dangerous situations for the good of other people.


6. Diverse Culture

American culture is very diverse. Every state contains a unique culture. America has a wide diversity of music, food, and movies. America is a melting pot of rich cultures.


7. Land of the Free, because of the Brave

America is the land of the free, because of the brave. Strangers that we have never even met before are willing to fight for and defend our country, so that it can remain free. Brave soldiers and police officers put their lives on the line to protect us Americans, to help keep us safe.


8. Free Public Education

America has an amazing education system. As Americans, we have 12 years of free public schooling. Educated minds are very valuable in today’s world.

9. Fun Pastimes

As Americans, we have the opportunity to participate in many different pastimes. We can go to an amusement park, a sporting event, concerts, movies… the list goes on and on! The fun things that you can do with family and friends in America are seemingly endless.


10. National Pride

Americans are proud to be Americans. We Americans show pride in our country, such as saying the Pledge of Allegiance and singing the National Anthem at sporting events. Patriotism is a key part of this country. Be proud to be an American and always remember the endless opportunities this country offers.

And I'm proud to be an American, where at least I know I'm free. And I won't forget the men who died, who gave that right to me.
Cover Image Credit: Google Images

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There Is So Much Beauty In The Fourth Of July Despite The Blazing Hot Temperatures

Because what other time could you be sweating from every pore in your body but still be having a good time?

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July fourth is arguably one of the hottest and most American holidays there is. Families and friends come together to celebrate the day of the United States' independence. The whole town comes out to the same place, at the same time, to sit in the burning hot sun and watch the commencement of the celebration parade.

Old cars drive through, fire trucks and police cars blare their sirens, pageant princesses and little misses wave from their glorious floats, high school bands play with the sunlight gleaming off their instruments, and horses prance through the street.

Even with so many amazing things going by, everyone's attention is always on something else. Retired veterans from every branch of the military drive or walk by, proudly wearing their hats and waving at everyone they pass. These are the people that you're going to want to pay attention to, out of respect if nothing else.

Just about every other car throws out candy and little kids scramble to get some before it disappears. It's a race to get the most and the best pieces. Clearly, this is the highlight of their morning and it keeps them quiet until siblings start fighting over who got what. Although by the end of the day, all you've got is hard bubble gum and partially unwrapped dum-dums.

Once the last sirens die out the majority of the crowd begins to trickle away. Some go to the pool or the beach and get a tan, and others take it easy all day, but most will be grilling out on this night. Hot dogs, hamburgers, and apple pie are served and the adults kick back with a beer to watch the children play and run around in their red, white, and blue outfits.

Chances are the local park will hold family-friendly festivities that evening, including face painting and sketchy amusement rides. People are posing for pictures at every turn and the sound of overlapping chatter and laughing never dies down.

As the temperature begins to drop a couple degrees kids and adults alike light up sparklers and draw pictures or words in the air, creating fairytale-like memories that will carry on anytime you think of the Fourth of July.

Finally, when dusk starts to settle in it is time for the long-awaited fireworks. The best spots in town fill up within in minutes to watch the show, but really it's pretty good from nearly anywhere you choose. Family pets are hurried inside to avoid any mishaps or runways and then the sky lights up with beautiful colors and designs.

The last fireworks are always the best because the town always makes sure to have a very grand finale. By the time they end, it's late at night and everyone is tired but in a good way. Some people might be sunburnt and some might be getting a tad grumpy, yet no one seems to really care that much. It ends up to be a great day had by all, and hopefully, nobody forgets the true meaning and importance of this summer holiday.

Cover Image Credit:

https://www.pexels.com/photo/4th-of-july-american-bright-candles-461917/

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