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Column - Memories of red, white and blue

Fireworks, flags, food, friends and family - when I think of the Fourth of July, these are the things that come to mind.

Every year I spend the majority of my Fourth of July weekend outside or on the lake enjoying the weather and spending time with the full house of guests we usually have.

I have a feeling I'm not the only one in Alexandria with this agenda. All the lakes in the area are generally teeming with boats and people. It seems to me that Alexandria is a Fourth of July hot spot.

The lake I live on has a Fourth of July boat parade that starts in the morning and makes its way from one end of the lake to the other. It is fun to watch all the decorated boats float by, while the people on board have water fights.

I only took part in the parade once, but our boat was scantily decorated compared to the rest. My family decided it was more fun just to watch - and less embarrassing.

Each year my family also sets up our volleyball net and plays for hours. We definitely don't play by legal rules, but we know how to have fun. Teams of eight or nine aren't unusual at my house, so things get pretty interesting. If I don't get bumped into at least twice, something must be wrong.

A bonfire is a must over the Fourth of July, at least for my family. We roast marshmallows and hot dogs and enjoy laughing with, and sometimes at, each other. The company of friends and family make everything more exciting.

However, the most popular form of entertainment over the Fourth of July seems to be the fireworks. All ages look forward to watching colorful explosions in the sky, symbolizing the free country we live in.

I've been watching the "Star Storm" fireworks at Arrowwood for as long as I can remember. I've seen other firework shows, but this one is by far my favorite.

I love watching them shoot up over beautiful Lake Darling, and the music that's played with the fireworks sets the mood for the show. I'm always disappointed when the fireworks are over and I know I have to wait a whole year to see them again.

With all these fun things to do over the Fourth of July, it is easy to forget the reason we celebrate in the first place.

I know it is easy for me to forget what happened 235 years ago. Independence is something a lot of people, including myself, take for granted. I don't generally stop to think that I could be living in a different country under a dictator. I forget how much freedom I actually have just because I live in the United States.

Because it is easy to forget what the Fourth of July is all about, I love to see when people have not forgotten. When flags are flying and people are dressed in red, white and blue, I know there are still people who remember what it's all about.

I think John Adams said it best when he said, "It ought to be commemorated as the day of deliverance, by solemn acts of devotion to God Almighty. It ought to be solemnized with pomp and parade, with shows, games, sports, guns, bells, bonfires, and illuminations, from one end of this continent to the other, from this time forward forever more." According to his standards, I think we are celebrating the Fourth of July just the way we should be.

There are such different people that live in this town, but everyone seems to come together on the Fourth of July. We might be different, but we all love our country.

So, this Fourth of July, be safe, and remember the reason we celebrate such a fun holiday.

"It's Our Turn" is a weekly column that rotates among members of the Echo Press editorial staff.