Readers offer fond memories, patriotic feelings

  • Posted: Sunday, June 30, 2013 12:45 a.m.
    UPDATED: Sunday, June 30, 2013 12:46 a.m.

The Post asked readers to share how they celebrate Independence Day. Here are the responses:

Faith, Freedom, Family

I remember the first time I saw the parade in Faith on the Fourth of July. I was with my oldest two children, Rodney and Stephanie in 1989.

I didn’t know it at the time, but it was the beginning of a very special family tradition for us.

It began with a family reunion and fun in the park playing games, riding all the rides, eating lots of food and seeing lots of family and friends — followed by “Parade Day.” I remember all three of my children loved to arrive early at their great uncle’s house so that they could hide his paper (on his front porch). They made sure they had their candy bags and, of course, were dressed in their red, white and blue!

During the parade the kids loved catching candy and getting to see cousins and aunts and uncles. After the parade we always had barbecue sandwiches, which are the very best at the Fourth of July in Faith.

I remember July 4, 2004, which I spent with my oldest son, Rodney Brown, at Brenner Children’s Hospital in Winston Salem. Rodney had just been diagnosed with leukemia and was getting treatments. He could not go to the parade and he was very upset, because to us it is a very special time to be proud of this country that we live in, celebrate our freedom and remember what the most important thing in life is — family!

We continue this tradition as a family with my grandchildren to pass on the memories and love of God, family and our country.

We remember Rodney every year as well, telling stories about him and his favorite parts of July Fourth. He loved the barbecue, the rides, the parade — and I believe he enjoyed the family most of all. But then there were the games in the park, which my children were excellent at; they usually won the sack race, thanks to their Grandpa Brown.

We usually headed to the lake after the races. The kids loved winning the $1 bills that were given as prizes.

As time changes and the faces of the family change, one thing will always remain the same: Time with the ones you love is possible because others sacrificed their time so that we could be safe and free!

— Valerie Belk

Proud to serve and happy to celebrate

Being honored to ride in the Fourth of July parade in Faith and sharing the day with thousands of Rowan County citizens is a major event for me every year.

When I returned from the first Gulf War, I had a deeper appreciation for our freedom and for the greatness of America after having lived in Saudi Arabian deserts.

The photo is a snapshot of Carol Ann Duke and me when the 846th Transportation Company returned from Desert Storm to the Salisbury Mall to meet our loved ones. Carol Ann is now 25, and I am no longer 45.

I have only missed three parades since 1991. I missed two parades while living in the desert in Iraq in 2003 and in Kuwait in 2004, while preparing for our flight home after 15 months in the desert.

I missed last year’s parade to attend the Civitan International Conference in Tallinn, Estonia.

In July, I will be driving to Colorado for the wedding of my great niece, but I’m not leaving this county until July 5 in order to ride in the parade.

So many people work hard to make it a success and more fun every year, and with all the people yelling and waving, the pride and joy are contagious. I will be happily waving back.

And when you wave at me, you will also be waving at the Davidson County Veterans Service Officer who was a Rowan County Veterans Service Officer for about 10 years, Boyd Morgan. He has agreed to drive my car in the parade. I know you all thought a lot of him, too.

What I will miss most will be going to the home of Marcelle Williams after the parade. My love goes out to his family.

The Fourth of July has another meaning for me. Not only is it the birthday of my nation, but it is my momma, Audrey Chapman’s birthday. She will be 85 on Independence Day, and I would love to take her to the most delicious place in town where I have eaten 51 times, The Landmark Family Restaurant on South Main Street in Salisbury. But she will want to go to the What-a-Burger. And, it is her birthday!

My parents both retired from Linn Mill in Landis and since every little girl thinks her mother is the most important person in the world — and since the mill closed for the week during the Fourth of July, and the employees received a bonus and we bought new croquet and badminton sets, pitched horseshoes, grilled hamburgers, fried fish and made ice cream — we always thought the mill “stood” a week for Momma’s birthday. Happy Fourth of July to all of you!

— Elaine C. Howle

A family tradition

The Fourth of July — always a special time for me. My fondest childhood memories center around the pride I shared with my dear grandmother who had two children serving in WWII — my Uncle Johnny and Aunt Vonnie. Uncle Johnny was drafted at 18 and served in Germany and my Aunt Vonnie Carter-Bonds volunteered for the WACs as soon as possible because her new husband was also drafted. They were so happy to serve their country, especially so for my aunt when she learned that her request to be stationed near her husband on Long Island, N.Y., was granted.

My deep feelings of patriotism were surely instilled by my grandmother. She was a feisty but gentle woman, and was very proud of being an American. She served her country faithfully as a judge at the polls in Cabarrus County. She encouraged me to take advantage of my special privilege to vote. I remember well going to the courthouse to register to vote on my 18th birthday and am proud to say that I’ve never missed voting in an election.

I married my high school sweetheart after he volunteered for service in Korea. He served with the 346th Engineers Reserve unit at Fort Lewis, WA and in Germany from age 18 to 21. Our three children and grandchildren know all about our pride in this great country and the reasons behind our patriotism; I’m sure it will be passed down to their children. Their father/grandfather is buried in the National Cemetery as will I be and other veteran family members as well.

This year, I will continue our family tradition of patriotism on July 4th, first by displaying the full size Salisbury Post flag at my front door and other small flags about our property and a flag on my shoulder for the week. We will listen to patriotic music continuously and take in every such concert in our area possible. Our family never missed the Faith July Fourth celebration for 50-plus years. Now at 82, my spirit is no less lively but considering the heat and crowds, I’ll be enjoying all festivities via radio and TV, knowing that all our younger generations will be in Faith.

My heartfelt desire for our country is that all American families will continue to pass down a legacy of true patriotism to their children, diligently preserving the freedoms that so many thousands have fought and died to protect.

God Bless America!

— Barbara Thomason

A farmer’s Fourth

My husband and I will celebrate the Fourth of July as most Americans do. We are farmers, so I know that we will also work on the farm that day. The Fourth is special for us and we will celebrate double that day because we were also married on the Fourth of July (40-plus years ago).

We love our country and each other. Thank God for both!

— Jack and Kay Carter, Lexington

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