Saturday, July 4, 2015

Baseball, Bicycles & America the Beautiful

How do you celebrate the 4th of July? I was talking to two friends this morning about how and why it's a holiday we can all rally around. Perhaps it has something to do with timing. Set in the heart of summer, the 4th beckons us to get out of our homes and play outside. Maybe it doesn't carry the same emotional baggage or expectations that other holidays do. Who knows. It's my favorite holiday and I love that all Americans—new and old can enjoy this day with family and friends, far and wide.

And with this blog I would like to offer three easy ways to enjoy Independence Day!

1. Go to a baseball game.
America's past-time is something the whole family can enjoy. For my brother and his daughters as well as two former co-workers—all huge San Francisco Giants fans— they were given the gift of seeing the defending World Series Champion take the field in our nation's capital. Not only did they hear the national anthem, they were able to see former Presidents run the bases at Nationals Park. I think it's important to recognize our Founding Fathers on this day. That's one way to do it.

I'm not a Yankee fan, but I can recognize they have a remarkable 4th of July history. For those of you with ESPN app, perhaps you have noticed the number of "no-hit alerts" that have rung up this season (the most interesting of which was Max Scherzer's near perfect game). The "no-no" remains an impressive feat, and if there's one way to do it, Dave Righetti did it best.
On July 4, 1983 Rags shut out the Red Sox at Yankee Stadium. The House that Babe built was adorned with bunting and over 40,000 fans in for an incredible feat. The Wikipedia entry says it all
It was the first Yankee no-hitter since Don Larsen's perfect game in the 1956 World Series, and the first by a Yankee left-hander since 1917. It was also the first time ever a no-hitter occurred during a Yankees-Red Sox rivalry game. Righetti recorded swinging strikeout against Wade Boggs to end the game. 
All I can say to that is "Yeah America."

But it's also worth pointing out what occurred in the Bronx 44 years prior. Captured in the movie "Pride of the Yankees" Lou Gehrig shared even with t"he bad break" he got, that he considers himself the "luckiest man on the faith of the earth." ESPN's An Awful Lot to Live For says
The place was home plate at Yankee Stadium. The day was July 4, 1939. The weather was steamy.And the circumstances were heart-breaking. 
The New York Yankees were honoring Lou Gehrig between games of a doubleheader with the Washington Senators just two short months after the greatest first baseman in the history of baseball found out that it was amyotrophic lateral sclerosis that had robbed him of his physical abilities. The Stadium was packed with 61,000 fans as members of the '27 Yankees and his current teammates fanned out in the infield.
It must have been incredibly emotional and yet inspiring. "Wow America."
The original Iron Horse. Gehrig played 2130 straight games.
2. Go to a 4th of July Parade
If you are like me, you love a good Independence Day parade. I am usually attending my favorite in Danville, CA but this year I will be at the oldest parade west of the Mississippi in Huntington Beach, CA. And I've never seen anything like it. Homes along the parade route were decorated with red, white and blue banners, lights, signs and anything else they could think of like it's Christmas in July. People of all ages are free to enjoy, and that's noteworthy: it costs nothing. Tax that America.

The morning festivities began with the Surf City 5k and concluded with a pancake breakfast. My only regret is that we didn't have a bicycle in the middle of all of this. 

There's something about the beach and a bicycleon the 4th. People decorate those too...or they should. We saw many. "Good job America."

3. "American the Beautiful"
Memorial Day, Thanksgiving Day and Independence Day are worthy days to attend daily mass. I can imagine the same closing song for all three would invite the congregation to sing "America, the Beautiful." 

I think the 4th is a fitting day to give thanks for our freedom and the men and women who have given their lives to protect and defend it. Mass is a communal, powerful and prayerful place to do that.

A friend shared an e-mail chain informing us of what happened to the men who signed the Constitution. Learning the price they paid so that this nation could come to be is worth thanksgiving and a deepened sense of appreciation. "God Bless America."

The only thing left to say is "Thanks America." Amen.

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