July 4, 1976: Arrived at work today with a feeling of anticipation. Normally this isnít a day I like to work. Oh, the day is usually fine, but around dusk and after is when it gets a bit hairy.
Thatís when all the amateur pyrotechnics come out of the woodwork. Which usually means a busy night for us. Knocking down mindless fires started by carelessness. The calls Iím happy we donít get a lot of, but Roy and John do are the mishaps causing bodily arm. Especially when children are involved. You can always tell when kids have been hurt, just by looking into the faces of our paramedicís when they return from a run. We never ask any questions, but will readily listen if they need to talk about it.
But, today, well today is different. We found out during out last shift that we would be receiving a special assignment today. I canít wait. Sometime around three oíclock this afternoon our station will be stood down so we can leave for our assignment. Cap says weíll probably have some take-out for supper, too. Johnnyís especially excited about that, Chet, too, as a matter of fact. Theyíre just like kids those two. Sometimes I wonder.
Anyway, speaking of Johnny, he and Roy wonít be working out of the station today at all. Right after roll call theyíll be heading out to the park. Not that I envy them that portion of their day really. Iím sure theyíll be busy. Lots of broken limbs, sprained ankles, sun burns, dehydration as well as heat exhaustion.
Okay, to be honest, if we had to work out of the park all day Iíd be happy with that as well. I love this day after all. Itís my favorite day of the year. The guys donít understand it, I guess because itís usually a busy day and nobody really wants to have a busy day in our profession. But I canít help it. July 4th is special.
The guys all have different favorite days of their own, for theyíre own reasons I suppose. Johnny loves Christmas, no big surprise there really. As Iíve mentioned, heís just a big kid himself. Roy has a special fondness for Memorial Day, I guess because heís served in the military. Kelly loves Saint Patrickís Day. Heís of Irish decent and never lets us forget it come March 17th. Marco has an affinity for Easter and as for Cap, well heís sentimental. Heís always claimed August 16th is his favorite day. Thatís the day he married his wife, Susan.
But I stand firm on my July 4th day. I guess it stems from my father having served in the military. No matter what State we lived in, no matter how far away my father was on the day; the military base we happened to live on would put on one fantastic birthday party. There would always be great games with superb prizes to be won. I remember one year my brother Donny and I won the three-legged race. We shared a sheriffís set for our teamwork that day.
A barbecue always followed the dayís fun with strawberry shortcake for dessert and after that a sing-a-long. Once the sun went down the fireworks began. I canít say for sure, but I think those yearly fireworks display is partly why I became a fireman. The fireworks always fascinated me, but the sight of the big red fire engine standing by, to ease anyoneís mind concerning something going wrong, always gave me a small thrill.
Today, Iíll be manning that big red fire engine easing everybodyís mind. What a kick! Of course, weíre still working. Tonight, after the sun goes down, weíll be setting off those fireworks. Itíll be nice to give people, especially the small kids, a reason to smile. Kids actually smile whenever they see a fire truck, which is fun, but adults are usually frowning and filled with anxiety when they see firemen and our apparatusí. Tonight will be different though. I imagine Chet and Marco are probably a bit excited, too. They actually get to be the men behind the fireworks. Boy, what a day! Talk about coming full circle. Iím so excited I can hardly stand it.
And tonight is extra special of course. Itís our countryís bicentennial, so the fireworks display will not only be spectacular, but extra long as well.
Gotta go, there go the klaxonís, weíre being called out to a brush fire and before roll call, too. Itís gonna be a long dayÖ.
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Stories by Sharon Fourth of July Stories