Here we are, right slap in the middle of summertime.

Yeah, the official summer didn’t begin until last Friday, June 21. But we folks down south know that summer really begins the day school lets out. That’s as official as it needs to be for us. We’ve already experienced some pretty extreme hot, some pretty extreme rain events, and I guess the Braves are doing pretty well, since as of this writing, they are first in the NL East. (Don’t be impressed with my sports knowledge. That info is straight from Google. I have no sports knowledge. But I do like to know that the Braves are having a good season!)

June has been a tough month for us, what with Father’s Day, Mom and Dad’s anniversary, and Dad’s birthday. On their anniversary, my mom was visited by the cardinal that we call “Pop.” I didn’t see him that day, but I’m so very happy that she did! I have the sweetest picture of her out in the yard, looking up into the tree. Such a special blessing. We spent several Saturdays in June packing up Dad’s clothes, and the kind folks from Peace Place Thrift Store (Arcade) are coming on Thursday the 27, his birthday, to pick up his things. Ouch. Baby steps.

With the Fourth of July coming up next week, my grandson has been excited to put some patriotic flowers at his grave, so we will be doing that this weekend. Corey thinks it is so cool that Pop was laid to rest in the military section of Barrow Memorial and has decided he wants to go into the military so he can be buried with Gigi and Pop. Love that little man! In years past, my entire family would gather at the lake for a fabulous day (or weekend) of celebration. We’d eat, swim, eat, ski, eat, sunbathe, eat… and then eat some more.

At dusk, we’d ride over to Lanier Islands by boat, to enjoy the fireworks over the water. At some point, over the years, the family started spreading out and going in different directions, making it difficult for us to all gather on the Fourth. We now have our family Fourth of July gathering in August. That’s just how we roll. Same agenda, just no fireworks.

Every year when the Fourth rolls around, I’m taken back to the streets of Boston, and the countryside of Lexington and Concord. I’m so grateful that I was able to take that tour with my daughter’s 10th grade AP History class. I’d love to go back again, to walk the Freedom Trail, see and touch the places that were so instrumental in the birth of our nation. This time, I think I will take a senior citizen’s tour and enjoy it at a somewhat slower pace!

As we gather together this coming week to celebrate, let us keep close to our hearts and minds the knowledge that our freedom wasn’t (and isn’t) free. The life blood of many were shed so that Old Glory can wave in the breeze. Our nation is in a bad way these days, and I shudder to think how our founding fathers would grieve if they could see us now.

Even so, America is still the greatest place to live, and I am forever grateful to those brave men and women who pledged their lives, their fortunes, and their sacred honor, so that we may live in the land of the free, and the home of the brave. Happy Fourth of July! Wishing everyone a safe and happy holiday celebration! God Bless America!

Cathy Watkins Bennett is a Barrow County native and a graduate of Winder-Barrow High School. Send comments about this column to bencath@aol.com.

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