It Is Wonderful To Be Americans

All holidays have particular significance for someone. There are holidays representing defining moments in religion or in a nation's history or perhaps just whimsy, and in most cases it is the reason for the commemoration that is most important, not the fact that it is a holiday.

The importance of Americans celebrating Independence Day, as the Fourth of July is known, cannot be overstated. It is recognition of those who did what was necessary to become free and to establish what has become the greatest nation and extraordinary example of a republic.

As for a holiday, July 4 has always been my favorite because of the nature of my work. College sports begin before Labor Day and don't end until after Memorial Day. There is a good chance I will have something to do on every holiday save today (and here I am writing a story about that!).

It goes back to my days working for the Alabama athletics department in sports information.

Even those holidays such as Thanksgiving and Christmas were work days – getting ready for football and basketball games in late November, traveling to the annual bowl game, usually on Christmas Day. And of course playing a bowl game on or around New Year's Day more often than not. For those in sports information (Charley Thornton, our secretary Vera Dowdle, and me) and in the training room (Jim Goostree and Sang Lyda), there basically were no holidays from August through May, because we covered all sports.

Paul Bryant was athletics director as well as head football coach, but he trusted some of the administrative duties to his top lieutenant, Sam Bailey. Coach Bailey was the only associate athletics director in the department (there were a couple of assistant athletics directors), unlike today when dozens of assistants and associates have offices in the athletics department.

In those days everyone in the athletics department worked in what was known as Memorial Coliseum, now Coleman Coliseum. Each year in late June we would all receive a Xerox copy of a Sam Bailey memo, saying something along the lines of:

"In recognition of Independence Day, the Athletics Department and Memorial Coliseum will be closed on July 4."

The memo was dated at the top, and it was obvious that the year had been changed from the previous year. This was pre-computer and White Out was used to erase the old year and whatever typewriter available was used to update the notice.

We have been fortunate enough this year to have friends and family with us for the long weekend marking the celebration. That means too much to eat and drink, boating and swimming or sunning, and fabulous fireworks displays up and down the lake.

Our hope is that you have the opportunity for a wonderful holiday and that we all take at least a moment to remember how fortunate we are to be Americans.

Being Alabama fans is just a bonus.

Happy Fourth of July!

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