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Four Years at the Mount

Sophomore year

Changing tradition

Lydia Olsen
Class of 2016

(7/2014) Tradition has it that come the fourth day of July I値l wake up early, roll out of bed, and rummage through all of the clothing I own to find something fittingly patriotic. After grabbing a few bottles of water and my camera, I値l eagerly wait for my mother to get ready. We値l hop into her car and drive a short distance to the neighboring town, navigating through traffic and the crowds trying to get as close to the celebration as possible. Once we致e parked, my mother and I walk until we find a suitable location. We always try to find a place in the shade, but locating one that isn稚 already occupied borders are impossible. After searching, we値l settle on the curb to wait as the excitement builds.

The parade will begin. American flags will be passed out and all will wave them proudly. My mother and I will cheer for the decorated floats, dance as the bands play, and stand up to honor the men and women in the military as they march past us. With candy in our stomachs, sunburn forming on our shoulders, and the judge痴 voice in our ears; my neighbors, my mother, and I will share in celebration of America.

On the ride home, we値l discuss our favorite displays while eating snowballs. Once home, I値l grab the white cake mix I have been saving. I値l mix the batter and divide it into three bowls. One will stay white, another will be dyed red with food coloring and the last will be dyed blue. After I carefully pour them into the cupcake tins and wait for them to bake to perfection, I will ice them and cover them in festive sprinkles.

Tradition has it that, with friends and family, I値l carry those cupcakes down the street to a large white house with green shutters. Cars will be parked up and down the road, but we値l have a special spot waiting for us in the driveway. I値l walk through the garage and open the door to the screen porch which greets me with a familiar squeak. I値l be surrounded by wire and wicker furniture and tables lined with food, baked goods, and drinks. There will be people sitting on green cushions talking to one another and sharing stories about past times.

I値l pass through the house and up the stairs that lead to the kitchen. Through the old halls, I値l wander until I come to the front room. Sitting there will be Miss Ronnie, the owner of the house, surrounded by friends and sharing a story that has everyone captivated. When her eyes land on my mother, she値l stop midsentence and a smile will spread across her face as they greet each other. As I walk into view, Ronnie will take my hand in hers and hold it for a minute or two. I値l remember that moment and cherish it. My mother and Ronnie will chat and gossip about nearly everything. Meanwhile, I値l be distracted by the assortment of books that line the wall and the old, black and white pictures around the room. After making sure that Ronnie has everything she could need or want, I値l head back to the screened porch.

After making my way through into the backyard to look for frogs in the pool, I値l see blankets scattered about and look for a place to lay my own. After layering myself with bug spray, I値l sit down and look out in front of me. The river unfolds in front of me beyond the white wooden fence. The gentle waves rock about the boats that await the show. To the right the lights from the Naval Academy Bridge slowly hum to life as the sun sets and to the left, across the water, the Naval Academy itself springs to quiet life.

As darkness falls over all of us, the anticipation will grow. Finally, it will begin. The first firework launched from a barge by the Naval Academy will shoot into the sky and explode in a beautiful display. Onward and upward the fireworks will continue, eliciting applause from the crowds and cheers from my mom. The display in the sky will be remarkable but the reflection of the fireworks on the bay is even more astonishing. Then the finale will begin; fireworks will shoot off in rapid secession. The glow they create will illuminate the faces of those around me as they smile and enjoy until it comes to an end. Their thunderous noise will finally cease only to be greeted by outbursts of horns honking from the boats on the bay below. After lingering around to avoid the traffic jams, packing up our stuff, helping to clean up and thanking Ronnie, we値l get back into the car to head home having spent another Fourth of July in the best way possible.

This year will be different. At the age of 93, Miss Ronnie passed away and shortly after that her big, old, white house was sold. While her passing has created great sadness in those close to her, her memory and love for life and Annapolis will always live on. Though it is disappointing that the tradition of sharing the celebration of our nation with friends, family, and Miss Ronnie at the very best location will no longer be the same, I feel blessed. I feel blessed to have known such an insightful woman and to have experienced such a blessed tradition. Though I wish our yearly ritual could have continued forever, it will now become someone else痴 and that is okay. I believe that they will appreciate it as much as my family and I have.

The Fourth of July is a holiday that is unlike many others in the way that it unites us all. In many ways I think that everyday should be like the Fourth of July. Every single day, not just one day of the year, we should be glad and grateful that we live in such a great country. It is true that the government doesn稚 always make decisions that we agree with. There are laws that we may not agree with and corruption does exist. Yet, we should always remember the things that our country does and provides for us. We are truly blessed to live in a place where we are able to express ourselves in any way we choose. Our pride in being American citizens should continually emanate from within. We should be proud to be Americans where if we know nothing else, at least we know that we are free. Rejoice that we are part of something so grand and so beautiful while remembering all of those who fight for our freedom today and in the past. We may not always have the opportunity to thank those who serve our country, but it is important that when we do have the chance, to seize it. We must express our gratitude to those who serve and have served us and keep those who have passed on in our hearts. If a time comes on the Fourth of July when your heart becomes full of sorrow for our fallen soldiers or for passed loved ones, all you have to do is think of is their view. Their view of the fireworks from heaven, and we must smile because they are surely smiling back as we celebrate together.

Read other articles by Lydia Olsen