Cumberland Times-News

Betty Van NewKirk - From the Museum

July 3, 2008

July 4th: Finding our beliefs

Independence Day, like Christmas, is one of the few national holidays that has not been moved to Monday, to provide a four-day break for working people. It holds its own as the Fourth of July.

Local observance varies somewhat, but in American minds the day is associated with hot-dogs and hamburgers cooked over a grill, lemonade and ice cream, baseball and other games in the afternoon, and fireworks in the evening after the sun has gone down.

The most traditional observances of July Fourth, in my experience, were in Germany, when we visited our son at the Army base where he was posted. It happened twice, at different bases, but the elements were the same: Red, white and blue everywhere, familiar food, and soldiers, with their friends and families, mingling without regard to rank.

There was an egg-throwing contest, two people tossing an egg (not hard-boiled!) back and forth over increasing distances until it finally broke in a mess. And then the men teamed up to form a pyramid to reach the $50 bill at the top of a greased pole. It was fun; it was egalitarian; and we came away proud of being American.

A few years later we happened to be visiting in the D.C. area over the Fourth, when a huge display of fireworks was scheduled for the mall. We sat on the grass in front of an apartment building in Rosyln, enjoying the music that was broadcast all over the area, and seeing the pride, the diversity, and the unity of our country all reflected in the display.

The Fourth of July is a meaningful date, and one easily remembered, so it has been chosen for a number of significant events. Ground-breaking for both the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad and the C and O Canal occurred on July 4, 1828. Half a century later, on July 4, 1884, the people of France made formal presentation of the Statue of Liberty to the American ambassador.

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Betty Van NewKirk - From the Museum
  • Happy 200th to St. Paul's Lutheran congregation Today is the 200th birthday of the Lutheran congregation in Frostburg!

    On Aug. 14, 1808, 24 people joined in a communion service in the New Church, a log structure on the edge of what is now called the Prichard Farm.

    August 14, 2008

  • Quality, attitude of people make 'Burg special A note in the newspaper a week or so ago mentioned that Oprah Winfrey was looking for "the best small towns in America.'' Frostburg is the best one I know of - but unfortunately Oprah asked for photos or videos supporting the nomination.

    August 7, 2008

  • There's always something new under the sun! The popular press has been devoting a good bit of space in recent weeks to the new swimsuit, introduced by Speedo, which supposedly has contributed to the record-breaking times posted in the Olympic tryouts.

    July 24, 2008

  • Ward and his mansion stand proud in 'Burg I've had questions recently - not for the first time! - about William Ward and the house he built at 73 W. Main St. here in Frostburg.

    July 17, 2008

  • July 4th: Finding our beliefs Independence Day, like Christmas, is one of the few national holidays that has not been moved to Monday, to provide a four-day break for working people. It holds its own as the Fourth of July.

    July 3, 2008

  • Berry-picking brings back many memories Last week I went to Wiley Ford to pick strawberries. I came home with enough for several packets of frozen berries, for three jars of strawberry jam, generous spoonfuls of fruit on my breakfast cereal and shortcake with real whipped cream.

    June 26, 2008

  • Ambulance service has key community role The Frostburg Area Ambulance Service is currently asking for our help in raising money for the protective clothing that new government regulations require.

    June 19, 2008

  • Planet continues to change; Big One on horizon? In a year that is not yet half over, 2008 has already written itself into the record books for extremes of hot and cold, rain and drought, tornadoes and floods and earthquakes. Our planet Earth has been in a constant state of change.

    June 12, 2008

  • In tennis, individuals face each other as equals I'm not a sports person, but I like to watch tennis. During the three big summer tournaments - Paris, London and New York, played on three different surfaces - my TV is on, and I check the newspaper for details that I have missed.

    June 5, 2008

  • Arts are obviously alive in Allegany County Last week I had the pleasure of attending the spring concert of the Allegany Community Symphony Orchestra. The program was free, and nicely varied, and the instrumentalists were competent.

    May 29, 2008

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