Because I live in THIS country …

When I was a kid, the Fourth of July was my favorite holiday. Not Christmas, though the family showered us with brightly wrapped presents. Not Thanksgiving, when we got together with all our cousins and had an excuse to gorge and play football in the side yard all day.

Yes, the Fourth of July still holds magic for me. Great memories, with emotions fully attached. Firecrackers — illegal as heck but you can still get them on “The Rez.” Sunny days at the Toutle River with the family. Cruising with my buds in the Dad’s ’64 Impala with the broken passenger seat. Warm nights at the lake, sitting on blankets and watching the big fireworks show.

The fact that it lands smack-dad in the middle of summer plays a role, I think. Despite growing up in Washington State (the wet side), the sun always seemed to find a way that day. Maybe it really didn’t, but I just can’t remember a rained-out Fourth. MY timing is probably a bigger factor. I grew up in the ’70s. Things were simpler then — you could be a kid without many of the natural fears that parents face today, and there were fewer distractions. My Mom, single and raising two boys on her own, worked during the day (Thank You, Mom!). In the summer, when school was out for a glorious three whole months, we were essentially on our own. We had more independence. How fitting to celebrate that fact with thunderous explosions and brilliant displays.

I remember making my own bottle rockets, when bottle rockets were fairly new inventions and very much illegal. Pinwheels and “punks” fashioned in just the right manner launch to the sky. Not much of a show, but dangerous as all get-out, and pretty frickin’ cool for a 14-year-old.

In school, they drilled into us the commonly held, saccharine version of American history. Red, white and blue and proud of it! Even now, I’m still OK with that content, though I know reality to be much more complicated and violent. (Hey, we were kids, not doctoral students.) But they armed us with pride for who were were, who we are and who we could become. And that was much more important.

Because in this great country, as screwed up and politically polarized as we are, as financially devastated as we are, as laissez-faire as we have become, anyone can still go from zero to hero in a lifetime. Even through the hurt and pain that many people endure today, Americans still have the ability to bootstrap themselves out of it. They still can have hope, not sugar-coated fantasy, but real hope backed by the conviction that a plan and deliberate action can propel them to success. And that’s a mentality that comes from living in the United States.

And that’s why we celebrate … in the loud and brash way we do.

Back home, this year’s Biblical rains have taken a break and it’s expected to be sunny and 69 degrees today. (Like there was ever a question?) People are setting up their craft-fair tents at the lake. The beer garden will be open for business in front of the Monticello Hotel. My family already has made their trip to The Rez and have their spot picked out at the river.

Today, as I sit here in my Palm Springs home with my Tanzanian peaberry coffee, clicking away on my Vaio laptop as my email ring-a-dings and my Blackberry buzzy-buzzes, the memories flood back, and I smile. And I get a little sad, too, maybe. Time has marched on and life has gotten much more complicated. I’m two states removed from most of my family. My mortgage is upside-down and some of my friends have lost their homes. But I’m optimistic for today, and especially for tomorrow.

Because I live in this country. And because tonight, there will be fireworks.

(Brian Bean is a real estate broker and ambassador for Helping A Million Homeowners, a nationwide organization that is committed to helping alleviate the financial stress that so many homeowners face today. He can be reached directly at Brian@DreamBigRealEstate.com.)

Brian Bean
Real Estate Professional
www.DreamBigRealEstate.com
www.IEShortSalePros.com
www.HelpingAMillionHomeowners.com

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If one advances confidently in the direction of his dreams,
and endeavors to live the life which he has imagined,
he will meet with a success unexpected in common hours.

Henry David Thoreau

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