I pledge my allegiance to the grand old flag

The 4th of July is a pretty significant event at the Ray household. Since I can remember, we have my Dad’s family over for the 4th. For some reason, we’ve been hyping this particular holiday since Christmas. Maybe it’s because the renovation of my parents’ house is finally finished. Maybe it’s because it gives my Dad and uncle Steve a chance to mow any grass that even thought about growing in our 15 acres. Or maybe it’s just the little kid in all of us who gets excited about food, fun and fireworks. Take your pick.

It was a 4th of July celebration I will never forget…”The Summer of Miracles in 08″ as it will be infamously known from here on out. July 4th was a blast. I was in such a good mood. And it had very little to do with the banana daiquiri I was sipping as I bobbed on a noodle in the middle of the deep end of the pool. Sure the XM radio was blaring rockin’ tunes from the 60s/80s (battle of the generation gap) and the sun was warming my skin, but that’s not why I was so happy:

1. My uncle Steve actually got IN the swimming pool. He never does this.
2. I convince my Mom to jump off the diving board. Wow. Peer pressure really does work.
3. I did about five back flips off the diving board.

Please know that I didn’t just walk up to the diving board and bust out a back flip. I had to mentally prepare myself for the task. I’ve always loved the water and have done tricks off the diving board since I was young. As I bobbed and sipped my beverage of choice, I wondered if I still had it in me, and convinced myself that if I didn’t execute at least one back flip, I would officially be in the shady age of not really young, yet not really old.

Clearly, this was unacceptable.

I run the thought by my Mom and cousin Stephanie.

Lincee: “I think I’m going to do a back flip off of the diving board.”
Mom: “You can’t do that any more.”
Steph: “You’ll hurt yourself.”

Lincee: “No really. I’m serious.”
Mom: “Don’t you dare. You are not in high school!”
Steph: “You’ll hit your head.”

Bursting with confidence from this endearing pep talk, I dismount my noodle and swim over to the ladder in the deep end. Remembering back when I was a whipper snapper, I recalled that I used to warm-up on the ladder doing back dives before attempting the diving board. I scramble up the ladder, take a few deep breathes and fling myself backwards.

Golden.

I pop up out of the water, expecting to hear shouts of congratulations and glee!

Nothing.

Mom and Steph weren’t even watching.

This time, I step onto the side of the pool and fling myself again in another perfect back dive. I pop up. And again…nothing.

Time for some serious action. I hoist myself out of the pool, making a big production that I AM ABOUT TO BACK FLIP OFF OF THE DIVING BOARD!

Mom: “DON’T YOU DARE! YOU WILL HURT YOURSELF!”
Steph: “If you jump, I’m not watching.”
Dad: “DO IT! DO IT! DO IT!”

I make my way around the pool and step on to the old creaky diving board that no one has used in 15 years. I march down to the end, turn around and go for broke without thinking.

Golden again.

This time when I pop up out of the water, I am greeted with applause, cheers and shouts for me to DO IT AGAIN!

Which I obliged. About four more times. Then my head started hurting and I felt like I was going to throw up. I blame the rum.

But the moral of the story is that I did it. I was the cool kid. Everyone wanted to be me.

That night, we all sat on the veranda (my Dad refuses to call it a back porch) and enjoyed fireworks from other houses in surrounding neighborhoods. I plugged in my iPOD and we listened to patriotic music as we watched the show. It might have been in the middle of Neil Diamond’s “America” or the “American Trilogy” by Elvis when I became emotional.

I love my country and feel I am a patriotic person. I’m one of those people who cries at the National Anthem and the American Homecoming with Bill and Gloria Gaither. As we were clapping during fireworks and singing “God Bless the USA,” I became overwhelmed at the fact that we have men and women fighting for our freedom…right now…this minute. Whether you support troops being overseas or not, the fact of the matter is that they are there. I’m not only thankful to be an American…I am blessed.

I received an email from a friend with a call to action in which I plan on participating. She is collecting various products to send to the troops. You can check out her blog for more information if you are interested in helping out: http://www.theflipsideofthepillow.blogspot.com

Whether you join us in our efforts, or reach out to them on your own, here’s praying are troops are safe and return home soon.

“I pledge my allegiance to the grand old flag
And the promise of the hope from sea to sea.
Under God one nation, undivided we will stand
Lift the banner of liberty.”

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