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Oh, say does that star-spangled banner yet wave/O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave? Yes, yes it does.

Another Fourth of July away from home. As I’ve grown older, I’ve understood better the importance of this holiday. In childhood, we had our annual block party. Typical neighborhood gathering, we kids would decorate our bikes with streamers and wear our red, white & blue colors. We’d parade around the park as a community, singing the national anthem, Yankee Doodle and lots of other traditional patriotic songs. A gathering to read the Declaration of Independence followed, and every year, my mother would dutifully enlarge our own version of the Declaration so we all could sign it and write our places of birth. I always had fun, but as an adult (I guess) I’ve learned to treasure the meaning behind the ritual more than the ritual itself. I was so glad that I was able to spend time in two cities that were so instrumental in our history and continue to be important in the American fabric.

We celebrated the Fourth from the top of a hill, overlooking the entire Hudson River Valley. I have never seen fireworks like this: we could literally see the fireworks shows for every town. And they were tiny! I tried taking a video, but it was practically useless in the dark. It was like miniature versions of fireworks, just for us.

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