It's July Fourth weekend, and we celebrate the birth of our nation with fireworks.
In our mind's eye we see our flag silhouetted by fireworks. It is an awesome sight, immortalized in "The Star Spangled Banner" and reproduced in thousands of towns this weekend.
We "Ooh!" and gasp as every rocket bursts into fiery flowers. There are gold chrysanthemums in the night sky. But we forget that fireworks are merely gunpowder put to delight. Our rockets rain down stars, not death. Our screams are exultant, not terrified.
It was not always so. It is not so now in Rwanda, Bosnia and other places too far away for us to notice. Rockets there mean death, pain and dispossession. Entire peoples and political parties are killed or exiled by the current victors.
We did some of this, too, in the years following the American Revolution. People whose only vice was loyalty to the losing side fled to Canada and Louisiana. But we forbore the wholesale extinction of the losers. And that is true cause for celebration.
Right from the start, America has embraced tolerance and forbearance as civic virtues. And, in spite of our serious lapses from grace (slavery comes to mind immediately, as does the general history of women here, the treatment of Native Americans and the internment of Japanese-descendant Americans,), we have upheld and expanded upon those virtues to create a nation of astonishing individuality and diversity.
So, when watching the rockets Monday, remember the American mantra: "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all . . . are created equal . . . endowed . . . with certain inalienable rights. . . ."
Happy Fourth of July to us all!
Vacation Bible School starts next week at First Baptist Church in Savage.
The Savage congregation has presented this program seemingly forever: "Since long before I came, and I've been here eight years," said the Rev. Ernest Beevers.
The church serves 120 kindergartners through sixth-graders in this weeklong evening program. It's very popular in the area.
"About 60 to 70 percent of the children come from the neighborhood, not from the congregation," said Mr. Beevers.
So, naturally, the planning begins months before the summer begins. This year Liz Slater and Karen Davis were elected co-directors of the program.
They have spent time canvassing volunteers to run the program and review the curriculum.
They also wisely enrolled volunteer baby sitters for the younger children of the teachers, so that more adults could then serve as teachers.
The sitters are Yvette Gifford, Bonnie Harrington, Gwen Waller, Jacky Waller, Tammy Hobes and Eva Sherman.
The teachers who will present the curriculum, written by the staff of the Southern Baptist Convention, are Linda Day, Sindi Clay, Beth Day, Greg Day, Bill Waller, Anne Griffin, Marla Dorsey, Beverly Mullins, Steve Satterfield, Jennifer Neimiller, Darla Trigger, Lynn Seymour, Pam Cluey, Kym Young, Mitch Young, Bonnie Grooms, Tom Hager, Bill Gifford, Alice Baldwin, Billie Specht, Patrick Day, Steve Helms and Amy Gifford.
It's a very popular program, with songs, crafts and recreational activities alternating with the lessons.
Vacation Bible School runs from July 10 to 15, from 6:30 p.m. to 9 p.m. every evening.
The church's address is Washington and Woodward streets Savage Maryland.
9- For more information call (301) 725-3944.
After a brief rest from serving 120 children in Vacation Bible School, the First Baptist Church in Savage will present a two-hour movie, "The Jesus Film," on July 17 at 6:30 p.m.
According to the pastor, Mr. Beevers, "This is the most watched film in history, even more than 'Gone With the Wind.' It's been shown in the Soviet Union and translated into different languages. It's the most accurate film, scripturally, that's ever been made."
The public is welcome to come see this film at the church, located at the corner of Washington and Woodward streets in Savage. Call (301) 725-3944 for more details.
The public also is invited to a concert of religious songs by "His Song," the evening of July 24, at First Baptist.
The Howard County library's Savage branch will present a half-hour story and activity series for preschoolers weekly from July 12 to August 10.
The 3- to 5-year-old preschoolers will listen to the stories in the storytelling room while parents and other children browse through the children's book collection.
There's no registration required for this program, so just drop in with your children on Tuesdays at 1:30 p.m. or Wednesdays at 10:30 a.m.
For more information about this program or others that the Savage library sponsors, call Laura Lunking, children's librarian, at (410) 880-5978.
Until this year, there has been a convention of table-top role-playing and miniature gamers in Baltimore. This year, the convention was canceled -- unfortunately late enough so that some participants who had already made plans to attend were left with nothing to do on the Fourth of July.
As disappointed area gamer Elisa Firth says, "Some people barbecue on the Fourth. I save the universe."
She and companions John Cox, Linda Cox and Mark Wallace are holding a miniconvention here in Savage this weekend at Carroll Baldwin Hall.
Most of the table slots are already filled by gamers from as far away as North Carolina and Detroit; spectators are welcomed to see what role playing gaming is all about.
Carol Johnson, Daniel Dalaney and Brandon Brylowski will present mystery games, Mark Wallace and Rachael Schmutter will present a vampire game, and John and Linda Cox will present superhero adventures.