Our Best To You On 4th Of July

I'll admit that I don't think about John Phillip Sousa very much, but the "March king" is on my mind today. Sousa produced one particular march tune which all the kids (as do I) sing it as "Be kind to your web-footed friend, 'cause that duck may be somebody's mother!" It's certainly one of Sousa's definitely American compositions.

One reason I found myself thinking about that particular march today, is that new arrivals at our home on the lake are a pair of mallards, pets who were released into the wild and have taken up on our boat ramp...in great part because our granddaughter, Jordan, makes sure they have at least one square meal a day of cracked corn.

As they swam up today, I couldn't help but break out into patriotic "web-footed friends" Americana.

The Fourth of July has been my favorite holiday for some 40 years, and I've told the reason for that before: When I was working in the sports information office at Alabama, Sam Bailey – who was second in command to Paul Bryant, who was athletics director as well as head football coach – would send out a memo in late June. It was always the same memo, obviously with a previous date "whited out" and filled in with the current year.

It said essentially, "The athletics department will be closed on July 4."

That was the only day of the year someone wasn't working in what was then just men's athletics. We had sports going on at all other times of the year, including frequently leaving for a bowl game or basketball game on Christmas.

Even though I'll do a bit of work today (beyond this), Independence Day is still a grand time for us to relax. We have our children and grandchildren and friends here for what all hope for – food, fun in the water (hopefully there will be some respite on a rainy day), and a fireworks display after dark. One great thing for the grandchildren is that the fishing off our pier this morning has been great – particularly for grandson Henry, who was fishing king as he hauled in about a dozen nice bluegill (all given their independence in our catch and release program).

Certainly, we are all aware of what a momentous event the Declaration of Independence and eventual successful war to achieve that independence has meant to the world, and to each of us. In our day of relaxation, I hope we all take a moment to reflect on that.

And to all of you, have a safe and happy Fourth of July. And when you hear, "Stars and Stripes Forever," think of our web-footed friends, too.

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