We’ve all heard of TBT — Throw Back Thursdays where we recall a favorite Thursday from days of yore. (You realize, don’t you, when you do this you’re reflecting on your yore. Whoa. Too many yores. Mind blown.)
Anyhoo, today I would like to share a TBFOJ, a Throw Back Fourth of July.
Let me start by saying I was blessed with an amazing mother-in-law. She was funny, loving, totally unfiltered, but above all, intensely patriotic. (A fact that at times embarrassed her daughter, the wife, when she would flick off men’s hats during the national anthem.) She was in the Women’s Army Corps so she felt she had the right.
One Fourth of July back in the late ’70s, the mother-in-law invited the wife and I over for a holiday celebration to honor the birth of this great, great nation in which we live. She also reminded us that she fought hard to secure freedom for the grandchildren we had better be giving her in the next year or so. (Did I mention she was just a tad unfiltered?)
Coming from a small village in Ohio, the Fourth of July events were to include a fabulous cookout with food in the colors matching the flag. We were instructed to show up in red, white and blue — or don’t show up at all. And when we arrived we would be decorated with a little pin she made out of tiny safety-pins and colored beads to form the American flag. Everyone must wear the flag on the Fourth of July.
The cookout would be followed by a ceremony at the town hall that would include traditional patriotic speeches, a band and a soloist singing the national anthem.
When the day arrived, we made the trek for the hometown celebration. We passed color inspection, were patriotically pinned, and had a delicious color-coordinated cookout.
Then came the Town Hall ceremony. A group of about 75 townspeople showed up for the festivities. As the rag-tag band of the remaining high school band members who weren’t on family vacation struck up the national anthem, an octogenarian whose vocal talents were waning, began to sing the national anthem on a sound system that cracked on every high note.
With hands over hearts (hats off, some not by choice) we watched as the American flag was raised on the flag pole.
The mother-in-law leaned over to the wife and said very dramatically, “That’s our flag.”
The wife thinking that her mom was being super patriotic responded, “I know, mom.”
The MIL persisted, “No, that’s our flag.”
The wife again said, “I know mom, and I am very proud.”
Still trying to clarify the MIL said, “Listen to me. That’s our flag … from home … someone stole the town hall flag last night, so they had to borrow mine.”
And as the last note of the “Star Strangled Banner” was cracked and the band assumed the parade rest position, snorts of laughter could be heard from the MIL, the wife and myself.
So, there you have it my fellow Americans, my favorite TBFOJ memory about a wonderful woman, a charming small town celebration, and a message that says we truly do live in the best country in the world. Thanks to my mother-in-law for keeping me patriotic.
Now may I put on my hat?
Raul Ascunce is a columnist for the Bowling Green Sentinel-Tribune, a sister paper of The Lima News within AIM Media.