Independence Day weekend — and I’ve never felt so free.

I’ll be down at the river tomorrow night enjoying the All-American Fourth of July festival. Nothing says “America” more than fireworks and hot dogs.

Who knows, maybe there will be a food truck selling apple pies, and if so, I’ll get a slice just for the heck of it.

I liked the “plan B” provided by the City of Owensboro last year too, with fireworks set off from various locations all across town. It was nice to just sit in my backyard and listen to WBKR on the radio, which graciously played patriotic music synchronized to match the various fireworks going off at the moment. If you don’t know what I’m talking about, well, they’re doing it again this year and it’s worth tuning in (92.5 FM).

But this year, I’m ready to get back to all the events I promised I would never take for granted again.

And speaking of freedom, having the holiday fall on Sunday means my office is closed on Monday, and I’m all in favor of celebrating three-day weekends every chance I get.

I’m a little bummed that my kids are all scattered hither and yon this year, with everybody out of town doing their own things, but I accept that philosophically. After all, I raised them to be independent; in that area, if in none other, I was wildly successful, so this is what I get.

But in addition to kids and grandkids, I am also blessed with great friends, so I have lined up quality time with some of them at various points throughout the weekend, and that’s absolutely good enough for me.

I have promised my dog Rufus that I will try to walk him early in the mornings this weekend before it gets too hot outside and before everyone starts going wild with their homemade fireworks displays in the evenings.

Honestly, Roof is the most laid-back dog I’ve ever had and is not perceptibly bothered by fireworks, storms, loud children or, really, much of anything. Our past Independence Day experiences have shown me that he will sleep peacefully throughout the celebration, undisturbed by sudden bangs and explosions, but I am still cautious and considerate enough to make sure he is safe and sound indoors during the most intense hours of the holiday.

Depending on what time I get home from the festivities each night this weekend, I hope to find an opportunity to sit outside on my patio or maybe in the rocking chair on my front porch. I have put out some patriotic decorations and they look pretty darn snazzy if I do say so myself (and I do), and I also have recently purchased one of those “fire pit in a can” contraptions, which means I can enjoy a modestly-sized bonfire but without worrying that the sparks from a real fire will burn my house down.

They say the flame is “food safe,” which means I can even toast marshmallows, which now that I think of it is even better than apple pie.

So it is, has been and will be a busy weekend.

But in those quiet moments between this and that and here and there … I will pause to reflect on the awesomely overwhelming odds that were against our nation’s independence in the first place … and the sometimes seemingly overwhelming challenges that we continue to face as a nation … the land of the free, and the home of the brave.

I hope the U.S. always stands for ALL of US.

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