Hanging on my office wall is a photograph of my grandfather and I alongside a Muscatine Journal story from September 1995. In it, he is showing me some keepsakes he brought home from New Guinea during World War II. Encased behind glass, in the story, he tells the reporter about hearing a fellow soldier die after he opted to not dig in for the night. That same soldier had made fun of my grandfather for doing so. My grandpa lived, and he did not. It was a story I heard my grandpa tell several times during my lifetime, and if I close my eyes I can even still hear his voice.
The picture serves as a daily reminder of the courage demonstrated by the men and women who serve our country. There were happy lessons he passed onto me from his time spent in the Army as well, like his appreciation for the 4th of July. It was always a time for celebration, family picnics and fireworks. He taught me about proper flag etiquette and what to do when you accidentally catch your yard on fire while lighting sparklers. He taught me the Pledge of Allegiance and how to salute. He never said too many nice things about the neighborhood kids, but on the 4th of July, he was giving them advice on where and how to shoot off the bottle rockets they really weren’t supposed to have. He liked fireworks and always made sure we had a good spot and comfy blanket to sit on to watch them on Muscatine’s riverfront.
I grew up being in the parade for one reason or another, and I could always count on finding him along the route. Independence Day was about celebration and spending time with family. I didn’t know the organizers of Muscatine’s 4th of July like I do now. I had no idea of the hard work they put into the event, the fundraising that has to start months in advance and all of the small details that make it a success, but those memories are some of the best I have with my family.
The Greater Muscatine Chamber of Commerce and Industry has had a bigger challenge this year in executing the 4th of July events with the many street closures, but also as a result of the confusion in the community that came with it. Many thought Muscatine’s festivities were cancelled. They never had been.
The show must go on.
Yes, there is a parade. Yes, there will be fireworks. And yes, the soapbox derby is back. Well done GMCCI, volunteers & community supporters.
Your donation can still make a difference. Stop into the GMCCI office behind First National Bank downtown at 102 Walunt St. and buy a raffle ticket, make a donation or get signed up for the parade. Your dollars will provide memories for little kids and a good time for all.