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The Night Befourth of July

Words by Aron Simkins


Fourth of July has always been my favorite holiday. Every year on Fourth-of-July Eve, I could hardly sleep at night with excitement and anticipation for what Uncle Sam would bring the next morning. With visions of firecrackers popping in my head, I would stare with a vigilant eye out my window into the starry night sky, hoping to catch a glimpse of Uncle Sam making his special visits to eagerly-waiting, legal U.S. citizens. You’d think he’d be easy to spot, what with his super-cool, gas-guzzling Humvee pulled by fifty elephants and donkeys. But, for whatever reason, his stop at our house was always a secret—but no less magical.

As kids, we would stay up late reading bedtime stories to each other, like: The Preamble, The Constitution, or our personal favorite: The Declaration of Independence. Sometimes, as we sat sleeplessly in our beds eagerly awaiting dawn’s arrival, we would quiz each other on the amendments or the dates each state joined the Union. Oh, how we’d laugh when baby brother confused a territory date with statehood inclusion.

Finally, morning would arrive, and we’d soar from our bedrooms like bald eagles from cell towers in a suburban development. Jumping loudly on our parents’ bed to wake them, we would sing: This Land is Your Land, This Land is My Land; America the Beautiful and all our other favorite Fourth of July carols. Then, we’d race down the stairs to the backyard and see what wonderful cuts of meat Uncle Sam left under our barbecue grill. I usually got perfectly-formed, select-grade, premium ground chuck hamburger patties. My mom and sister typically found free-range, 100% organic, boneless chicken breasts. My brother always got bratwurst. My dad—a one-inch New York strip steak. We could hardly contain ourselves!


I recall how thrilling it would be to see the half-eaten plate of baked beans we'd left out the night before, or to stumble on the empty cans dear, ol’ Uncle Sam had discourteously strewn across our yard. Dad made me clean them up, but I didn’t mind. They were evidence the jolly, old super patriot had truly visited.

While it’s true I may be guilty of occasionally spouting love for other holidays, the Fourth of July will always hold a tender place in my all-American heart. And now that I’m older with a family of my own, I can hardly wait to see the excitement on my children’s faces as they discover Uncle Sam’s grill-able gifts under our smoker.

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