Then you start maturing. You begin to listen to stories of real people about wars, killing, pride in a job well done, post high school careers or college.....and military service. You begin to realize that comic books and movies might not tell things exactly as they are.
Back in the days of the military draft, the question was never whether you were going to serve, or not. The question was when. Some were apprehensive about it, and others were not. Some volunteered right after high school and others deferred while in college. The ones volunteering right after high school experienced intense cultural shock. Four weeks earlier, there was fun at the beach, and now there was a DI yelling at you with his nose two inches from your face. You had absolutely no doubt he would, with the slightest of provocations, pull his 45 out of his holster and shoot you.
Wounds of Korea were still present. The veterans coming back from Korea seldom talked about their experiences but occasionally did. There was no bragging, only distant memories of bad things. We were just beginning to read about a new place called "Viet Nam." A new image of veterans and what they did began to emerge in young male minds.....at least the thinking of intelligent young male minds. Hollywood hero worship began to take a back seat to the less flashy real world. One began to learn that when someone died or was killed in the real world, it was in fact real. You couldn't turn a page or change channels and get a different ending to the story.
The history books told us what the early fighters for the USA did. There was a little bit of the comic book syndrome connected with the history books because one couldn't relate those stories with contemporary stories of heroism and political in-fighting; the stuff we read about every day. As one matured, the earlier concepts of what the USA was, became more real.
I have a distant (five times removed) grandfather who fought in the Revolutionary War along side four other brothers. He and his brothers were just a few years off the boat from Europe. For their services, each of the five brothers received a land grant in Bucks County, Ohio, down near present day Cincinnati. He improved his land, then sold it for cash to buy better and more productive land in northern Indiana. That's how I got to Indiana. My grandfather died in 1837 and his wife died in 1854. They are buried together in a small church cemetery near Wild Cat Creek, along with one of his brothers and other members of the family. I have visited their graves. I am very proud of my heritage.
Although the pleasures of my original 4th of July celebrations remain cherished, they have substantially been replaced by a more mature celebration of the holiday. I still reminisce about the lake, but I think more about my distant grandfather and what he did. I think about subsequent grandfathers that contributed with their efforts, and even my own little effort I made with my military service.
The 4th of July remains one of my favorite holidays, but increasingly I celebrate the efforts that my ancestors successfully performed to keep this nation and my home as I enjoy today. It took generations of efforts to keep us as we are. It was no small feat. Many, many people died just so I could keep a barbecue grill in my back yard, if I wish.
I become deeply concerned, angered, and saddened with some of the behavior I see demonstrated today. All the name calling, demonstrations, AG investigations, media bias, and just plain old childish behavior is far below the standards of the expected behavior of an American. We are different than all the other people of the world. That is not a criticism of the rest of the world. It is a standard that others should aspire to attain. There are real enemies in this world that delight in the most cruel torture, rape and murder of innocent civilians. These same enemies wish to kill you in the same manner. Don't take my word for it. Listen to them.
When I see half of the House of Representatives throw a fit like a two year old, evidenced by three members walking out of a session during a moment of silence honoring victims of Orlando, or demonstrating like a bunch of morons in Congress, I just wish my great, great, great, great, great grandpa was still alive to go kick some ass. I think he would and could do it, aided by all his many layered grandsons. I am thoroughly fed up and disgusted with this present day crap we call politics.
Have a great 4th of July weekend. Enjoy family, friends, and place. Remember what started it, and support the current heros who keep the date meaningful. Tell the ones you love that you really do, and be thankful that you can do all this in the country that my grandpa and his friends built for us. It's our job to pass the USA on to our decedents at least intact.
Me? I'm going to remember Indiana Beach on Lake Shaffer, maybe do a little sailing on Lake Ray Hubbard, enjoy as much family as I can, put some steaks and burgers on the grill, and drink a beer as a libation to my grandpa, John Mattix......and maybe have another beer dedicated to all the current service personnel now serving in the US armed forces. The damned politicians will have to buy their own beer.