I remember the days when I couldn’t wait to get out the door on the Fourth of July.


When I was young, of course, it meant urging my parents to “hurry up” because I was sure we’d miss something – the parade or the rides opening on the midway.


In my teen years, I couldn’t wait to get to the celebration and meet up with friends and, as high school years were gone and the 20s arrived, it was always nice to return, if only to meet with high school friends and reminisce while learning about their current lives.


As we grew into parenthood, it was our own children who showed that excitement, wanting us to hurry so they could get to the Fourth of July party and get candy, ice cream and tummy-aches that allowed us to re-live our own younger years without the pain of our own over-indulging.


Finally, our children were gone from the nest and had children of their own.


Those first years as empty-nesters left us still young enough to enjoy the Fourth of July crowds while hoping that we’d run into some of our friends from years past. We half-heartedly traveled to familiar sites, found parking spots as close to the action as possible, walk slowly to the celebration and spent as little time there as possible before agreeing that it was “too hot” or “there’s nobody here I know” or “this sure isn’t like it used to be.”


No, it didn’t take much urging, either from myself or my wife, to find some air-conditioned comfort that would offer respite from a “too-busy” Fourth of July.


I don’t remember exactly when that final feeling came, but it’s a hard one to shake.


It’s simply easier to spend the day at home, sitting in front of the television and watching folks in New York and other places around the country celebrate this traditional summertime celebration.


I wonder if any of our younger generation even knows why we have this holiday, why it’s become traditional that we turn our lives into this day of overindulgence … whether we eat too much, drink too much, or simply spend the day doing as little as possible.


The Fourth of July, if it’s nothing more, should be a time that we all reflect on how great it is to be American, how wonderful it is to be free.


Parades around the country draw huge crowds. Bands march in step, playing patriotic music. Groups of veterans march in step, many wearing American Legion caps and others wearing their military uniforms, if they still can fit into them.


On July 4, 1776, the Continental Congress declared that the 13 (original) American colonies were no longer subject to the British monarch and were now united, free and independent states. With that break from British rule, we were truly the United States of America.


There was a time, and it wasn’t that long ago (well, okay, it was a “few” decades back) that I could still wear my military uniform. I was proud to be part of a group of veterans, wearing our uniforms representing four branches of military service, leading a parade through downtown.


I’m still very proud to be an American, a citizen of the greatest country in the world … even if I choose to sit at home in comfort and watch everyone else over-indulge on the Fourth of July.