Antiques · Family History

Uncle Sam Gets Ready for the 4th of July…

Down in the basement, folded neatly on a shelf like a book, Uncle Sam was waiting. He hadn’t come out to hang in the window, waving at the neighborhood children for quite a while. It had been a long time since the last time Grandmother Dana unfolded him with the granddaughters, checking his nifty metal joints before laughing and playing with him, then hanging him in the window before dinner. His hanging string had worn through the last time they’d played, and he was a bit worried about that, but Independence Day had to be coming soon, and it was his job to start the celebration.

When we moved into “Hibbard House,” the house Mr. H. had grown up in, almost four years ago, I didn’t start organizing the basement until the following summer. I knew I wasn’t going to get rid of Christmas decorations anytime soon, and the boxes of old picture frames, letters, and who-knows-what could just sit down there. When I found Uncle Sam, he was tucked beside other miscellany on an ornament shelf. I found a good spot for him, hoping I would remember to pull him out the next July.

Did I remember? Of course not! But Uncle Sam was in a safe spot, waiting. I remembered him a few days ago, fixed the missing hanger with tape and a bit of ribbon, and hung him in the dining room window. Since then, I’ve walked by and thought someone was peering in the house, but no, it’s Uncle Sam! Tuesday morning I added the little flag. I’m surprised he’s still holding it–I guess it’s his patriotic duty!

This Independence Day we’ll probably watch a parade, waving at a few politicians and cheering the band members who walk in the heat, then enjoy listening to Atlanta Concert Band play patriotic songs, and finish the day with a family cookout, with hamburgers, corn on the cob from last week’s CSA box, maybe deviled eggs. We’ll talk over good times with a few “remember when…” stories. And we’ll be thankful for the many good things about America.

One of my favorite July 4th things is the music, especially in a big group with everyone singing together. Music brings out so many memories, children dressed in stars and stripes playing drums as they marched, adults singing along…patriotic music is wonderful whether it’s instrumental, choirs, friends with a guitar or just a recording. My parents enjoyed the big band concerts on television every year, Lawrence Welk, of course, the Mormon Tabernacle Choir, but Mama’s favorite was Kate Smith singing “God Bless America.” That’s one of my favorites too, although I prefer it sung by children, especially when they act out the amber waves of grain, with a big finish at “my home, sweet home!” Other favorites are “I Am Thankful to be an American,” which I haven’t heard in a long time, and “God Bless the USA.”

I am almost used to Uncle Sam hanging in the window, holding his flag out and waving to those who pass by, as patriotic as a cardboard posable can be. I hope he brings a smile to people’s faces as they celebrate the 4th.

Happy Independence Day!

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