A celebration of the Bicentennial of the United States of America was everywhere in 1976. Logos and labels on commercial products were red, white, and blue. Sports’ jerseys proudly displayed the Bicentennial logo. There were parades, exhibits and special performances to celebrate the birth of the nation. Locally, there were flags on homes and red, white, and blue painted mailboxes.
President Gerald Ford, on the morning of July 4, 1976, sailed down the Hudson River aboard the USS Wainwright and Johnny Cash headed up the U.S. Bicentennial parade. Meanwhile, in New Iberia, Louisiana, the Poirrier family held it’s annual Fourth of July picnic. My mother hosted the family picnic and due to the special celebration; the 1976 picnic was a day to remember! Many cousins, aunts, uncles and family friends showed up to celebrate. The day was filled with family fun and food. There were many competitions for us children. I competed in all of them from the three-legged race and long jump to the bubble gum blowing contest. Mom had painstakingly hand-made patriotic plaques for all the lucky winners. I was small and agile those days and showing off my speed. It was a beautiful day!
The men were grilling and enjoying a cold brew. The women were setting the food out on picnic tables and fussing at any kids who were misbehaving. The air was filled with the smell of bar-b-que and the sound of laughter. That afternoon, there was a family baseball game that was as competitive as the Yankees and Red Sox! We returned home in the dark and sat in lawn chairs in the front yard, watching fireworks light up the sky. We were tired, sated with happiness and proud to be an American! Life was good! The family was so appreciative of my mother’s efforts that year, that they pulled together and bought her a professionally made plaque thanking her for the joy of that day.
This memory of mine seems such a stark contrast to the America I see today. We seem to have forgotten the sacrifice of our founding fathers and those who shed blood so that their children and grandchildren could live in a country of freedoms. Freedom of speech, freedom of religion, and freedom of the pursuit of happiness came at a great cost. No other nation on earth has created opportunity for generations as this great nation. Has the journey been perfect? Absolutely not – but, then again, there is no perfect in this world. The founding fathers of this nation were given Divine inspired words which formed the Declaration of Independence.
“We hold these Truths to be self-evident, that all Men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness- that to secure these Rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just Powers from the Consent of the Governed..”
We must teach our children and grandchildren these truths. This new generation should understand how proud they should be of what this great nation has accomplished. 2026 will bring about the 250th birthday of this land that I love. It is my hope that I will once again see the enthusiasm and patriotism of 1976!
God Bless the United States of America!