I was born on the Third of July a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away. The years have rolled by, and they have rolled by at an increasingly faster pace than I have wanted.
I am calling this year’s chronology my Roger Maris birthday. I am 61.
Just typing that number makes me feel old. I’ve had a good life, and I’ve seen and done a lot on this orb. However, as we get older we tend to be more reflective—nostalgic even—as the years keep clicking ever onward. With that thought in mind, I’d like to share some of the more memorable birthdays I’ve had over the years as the wave of nostalgia overwhelms me today.
July 3, 1972. A great day for music in my life. My godmother, my aunt Gloria, gave me two albums that year for my birthday. They were classics. One was Carole King’s Tapestry, and the other was Neil Young’s Harvest. I wore those albums out that summer, and I can still sing all the lyrics to every song on those albums.
July 3, 1981. I was living just outside of Philadelphia, Pa. and going to Law School. On that 3rd of July, I went to Independence Mall in the heart of Philly and listened to the Philadelphia Pops play patriotic museum on a beautiful night while fireworks boomed over Independence Hall. From the 4th of July perspective, it doesn’t get any better than that.
July 3, 1987. I was an avid softball player back in the day, and our team had a big game against the best team in the league that night. It was one of the best nights I ever had at the plate. I smacked three dingers, one double, and was robbed of a fourth dinger by a guy who made a leaping catch over the fence. I had 10 RBIs. We won 22-12, and boy did we party that night well into the wee hours. We probably would have celebrated anyway; the team I played for was Budweiser and we all wore Spuds McKenzie T-shirts.
July 3, 1993. I was the publisher of the newspaper group in Manistee, Michigan, a lovely Lake Michigan community with plenty of Victorian heritage and architecture. I’ll never forget the beauty of that night. I was on a sail boat with friends participating in a Venetian boat parade, and we went out into Lake Michigan and watched the fireworks over the lake following one of the most magnificent sunsets I’ve ever seen. It was truly breathtaking.
July 3, 2000. I decided to take the family on a big western family vacation that year. We went to Yellowstone, Jackson Hole, Rocky Mountain National Park, the Black Hills—some of the coolest places in the United States. That year on my birthday, we were at Mt. Rushmore in the Black Hills. They did fireworks that night right above Mt. Rushmore, and it was an awesome evening—one my kids still talk about. It was the best family vacation I ever took.
July 3, 2014. The gang at my old watering hole back in Lansing, Mich. had a surprise birthday party for me at a place called the Waterfront Bar and Grill. It is located on the Grand River in downtown Lansing, and you can see the Capital Dome from that location. I got to see a lot of old friends that night, and as we sat out on the patio and watched the fireworks over the Capital someone started singing God Bless the USA. Everyone stood up and it was the largest choir to sing patriotic songs ever created on the spur of the moment.
Those are just a few of the highlights. But I do know this: July 3rd is one heck of a day to have a birthday. No matter where I go, they always have parades and fireworks for me. And the best part is I get to sleep in the next day.
Happy 4th of July everyone. And God Bless America.