Friday, July 4, 2008

4th of July

We invited our friends Aaron and Joan to accompany us on a short trip to the coast a week ago. Having visited neither Seaside (the end of the Lewis and Clark trail) nor Astoria (on the Columbia River) in the past, this was an opportunity to do so. Following the comfortable drive and site seeing expedition, we arrived at what would be our evening accommodations, then had a nice fresh seafood lunch at Norma's, just down the block.

From our room. . .

Since much of the afternoon and evening remained, we returned to the car and headed for Astoria. Other friends had recommended we drive across the bridge into Washington, so we followed that advise. . . an exciting crossing as we accessed the ramp, circle about and climbed upward. I was reminded of being atop a ferris wheel, a feeling I must admit which causes my breathing to become altered.

We descended the spanning architecture, crossed into Washington and turned left paralleling the water for about 13 miles. Much of the area appears uninhabited, but we passed through a few tiny towns and saw signs for fresh fish and crab. "Look, Patty's Fresh Crab, cooked", and a U-turn in the road took my husband only a moment.

We purchased 4 of the largest crabs I had ever seen and a little cocktail sauce for some dipping. Surely it was time to head back to our unit with a short stop at the grocery for fresh lemon and a few other items which would make a meal complete. All thoughts were now on the newly acquired cargo.

What fun and such fine cuisine! Brie, sourdough bread, nuts and wine. Then crabs and a little more wine! It doesn't get any better than that, unless of course we are talking about Maryland Blue Crab and beer! Sorry to my friends here in the Pacific northwest, but that is the best.

We played a new game of cards, talked as we always do and as 10 o'clock approached, it seemed time for bed. Suddenly the fire alarm went off, and we couldn't understand why. We tried to turn off our smoke alarm, and as we heard the noise in the hallway, realized it was sounding throughout the building. Down the stairs and out onto the boardwalk people of all ages gathered and waited, some in their nightgowns and others with little attire. It was a fire drill! And on the beach a few were setting off firecrackers in anticipation of the 4th and being enjoyed by all, that is until the police scurried down to stop it. What a great day and evening, and tomorrow we would take our time and journey home.

So today is the 4th of July. . . Independence Day, the day which marks the celebration of the founding of our nation. 232 years ago our founding fathers declared liberation from the clasps and restrictions of England's monarchy, with the signing of the Declaration of Independence. It is a day which marks the culmination of years of struggle, anguish and labor, and a people faced with insurmountable odds against the most powerful empire, yet bound by humility and a resolute belief in God and who delivered a great nation to us.

They believed in the limit of the power of government, that citizens should be free, and they represented the will of the people. This document says so:

Today we celebrate freedom, but I fear we have become less free. The government has spent with reckless abandonment (the U.S. is now the largest debtor), as has the American consumer. We have allowed ourselves to become controlled by our politicians and greater indebtedness to the government with the ever increasing entitlement programs (Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, unemployment benefits, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. . .) and taxation (on everything while we live and after we die), and enslaved with debt from purchase of houses and cars and stuff which far exceeds incomes and savings.

I fear the sacrifices made by so many patriots those many years ago to free us from taxation and servitude find us having returned those freedoms with great complacency. Government and debt holders have gained title to nearly all we have and continue to want for more.

When I see our American flag or hear the Star Spangled Banner being sung, I feel the pride of a great nation and people, but the memory of what was fought to gain and the reality of that which has been given back, causes a sadness for me this day.