A Holiday for America

Is there anything more “American” than baseball? Has our country given the world anything more lasting… more identifiable with our nation than baseball?

The answer to both questions is, undeniably… yes.

Yes, there’s something more that our American ancestors gave to the world… something that is more valuable and more identifiable with our country than baseball. From the time a small group of courageous patriots sat in a room in Philadelphia and declared certain truths to be self-evident some 236 years ago today, up through this very moment, brave American men and women have demonstrated to the world that freedom is not just a word, but a right worth fighting for… and sometimes giving your life to defend. As we go about our celebration today, let us not forget the sacrifices made by others to assure we have the freedom to do that celebrating.

I don’t remember all of the 55 Independence Days I’ve celebrated as a citizen of these United States, but a few of them stand out in my memory. I’ve celebrated at family picnics and I’ve watched half a century of evening fireworks with friends and family. I’ve watched parades down main streets in Albert Lea, Minnesota and Webster City, Iowa… and even Cody, Wyoming, where we capped the night attending a rodeo. I’ve watched a parade of floats down a river in Iowa Falls, Iowa, as well.

But more than parades and more than fireworks, baseball has been a part of my life for as long as I can remember. I’ve spent July 4 playing baseball, coaching baseball, and watching baseball at pretty much every level it has been known to be played, from T-ball to the Big Leagues.

This morning, I even started my holiday by watching Field of Dreams on HBO. I’ve watched that movie a lot and if I’ve seen it 30 times, then I’m 30 for 30 in terms of tears during the final scene. Every time I see Kevin Costner “having a catch” with his father, it’s as if I’m able to do the same thing with my dad one more time and it reminds me of all the time I spent on a ballfield with him, not to mention all the time I’ve spent on ballfields with my own son. It was a perfect way to start the day.

A couple of years ago, I spent July 4 watching the Twins host the Tampa Bay Rays at Target Field and catching a Major League game on this holiday is something highly recommended. Alas, our Twins are on the road in Detroit tonight so most of us will have to wait at least another year to enjoy that pleasure again.

Fortunately, I do have an alternative. The Cedar Rapids Kernels take on the Wisconsin Timber Rattlers at 5:00 this evening at Memorial Stadium here in Cedar Rapids and I’ll be there with family and friends to enjoy the game and the post-game fireworks.

As I’ve mentioned here before, many minor league organizations raise money for various charities by having their players sport special jerseys several times a year with those jerseys being auctioned off to fans. Tonight is no different in Cedar Rapids. The Kernels will be wearing these rather patriotic jerseys tonight and again on Armed Forces Appreciation Night this Saturday. They’ll be auctioned off Saturday night. I’ve already bought more Kernels jerseys at these auctions than I’ll ever wear, but I may have to get me one of these!

What are your plans for the day? Is baseball a part of them?

If the inspiration strikes you, feel free to use the comments section to share something about your favorite July 4 memory or perhaps about your plans for celebrating the holiday this year.

Whatever your plans, please take a moment at some point during the day to remember and thank those who have made this great celebration of national and personal freedom possible.

– JC