" It ought to be solemnized with Pomp and Parade, with Shews,
Games, Sports, Guns, Bells, Bonfires and
Illuminations from one End of this Continent
to the other from this Time forward forever more.”
John Adams – July 3, 1776.
Webster Groves - 2016
The Townhall fountain dances
cheerily in the morning sun.
The red-white-blue shirted crowd
rises as one for the colors.
Laughing children scramble for
tootsie rolls and sweet tarts
tossed by a strolling clown.
Philadelphia, July 3, 1776
*Carriages sped toward Philadelphia
where resolute patriots
would turn the pages of history
and tell an unsuspecting world
that a new nation had given birth to itself.
Sousa strains peal from the marching Statesmen,
Girl Scouts guide their well-groomed mounts -
hooves echoing through concrete caverns.
Vintage firetrucks and autos
sound their horns and sirens
as candidates work the crowd, pressing the flesh.
Each crass insult from the British crown
had tightened the noose on the colonial neck.
The middle ground was soaked with patriot blood
and revolution was the only course left.
Barbecue clouds drift over Pat and Lee’s farm
Horseshoes spin and clang and frisbees fly.
A ***-luck feast with beans and franks
interrupts the pop and glare of bottle rockets.
One by one, each patriot quilled the parchment
resolved to endure the costs of liberty -
knowing to the marrow that defeat
would spell certain ******* and death.
We reach the lakeshore at dusk -
unfolding chairs - spreading out blankets -
strains of Americana drift over the lake.
then a pyro-technic extravaganza
blazes across the summer sky.
Washingon’s tattered and bloodied men
cornered Cornwallis at Yorktown.
Then surrender - all British claims
to American soil banished to the tomes of history.
The grand finale pummels the darkened sky
raising cheers and whistles from the crowd
Toddlers collapse in parental arms,
car doors slam, engines ignite
and head-lighted caravans, turn for home,
spiraling off in every compass degree.
“Happy birthday,” America and endless happy returns
"from this time forward forever more!”
Robert Charles Howard