Commentary: Celebrating America’s birthday came in different forms, ways

Commentary: Celebrating America’s birthday came in different forms, ways
July 12
00:00 2018

By James B. Ewers Jr.

America celebrated its birthday on July 4th. It’s over now and we’ll have to wait until next year for another patriotic party.

We have so many ways of honoring our freedom and independence. That is the beauty and joy of being free. The American Automobile Association reported that thousands of motorists took to the roads to visit family and friends. The cost of gas is not prohibitive, so jumping in the car to take a road trip is both fun and relatively inexpensive.

The interesting part about taking a road trip is the places you can stop before you reach your destination. You can make the trip as long or as short as you want it to be. Some of us like driving because we are always in control of the trip.

While driving gives you some great views, let me also suggest taking a train ride. Amtrak had a lot of folks on its rail cars. It is even more fun if you get a sleeping car. One of my fondest childhood memories around the 4th of July was taking train rides with my parents to Washington, DC. We would board the train in Winston-Salem and arrive a day or so later at Union Terminal in Washington. Being on a train at night was cool. The bright lights, the food and the people made it an unforgettable experience. During my childhood, I took a number of train trips with my dad and mom. I was blessed.

Our nation’s airports were also busy last week. If you want to get from point A to point B in a hurry, take a plane. There is no faster way. You endure the long lines, the crowded TSA lines and sometimes the delays because you want to get to your destination without delay. Airports in cities like New York, Miami and New Orleans were packed. If you travelled to New Orleans, you had a chance to attend The Essence Festival. This event is popular with people of all ages. They had the chance to see some great acts, go to the always popular French Quarter and sample some good food.

And speaking of food, one of the 4th of July traditions is having food prepared in different ways. One of the most famous is barbeque. Being from North Carolina, I have eaten good barbeque. When I get a plate of barbeque chicken, baked beans and potato salad, you won’t know I am there because my mouth is full.

Families have all kinds of 4th of July traditions. Whatever your tradition is, be thankful for it. If you don’t have one yet, then start a tradition. It’s not too late.

Between my servings of food a few days ago, I watched the Annual Nathan’s Hot Dog Eating Contest on television. Joey Chestnut won the championship as he ate 74 hot dogs in 10 minutes. Chestnut is an 11-time champion. This competitive hot dog eating is not just for men. Miki Sudo won her fifth title as she ate 37 hot dogs. Nearly 25,000 people gathered around the Nathan’s hot dog stand in Coney Island to watch this event.

I hope everyone had a Happy 4th of July. I am on the way to buy a pack of Nathan’s hot dogs!

James B. Ewers  Jr. Ed.D. is a former tennis champion at Atkins High School in Winston-Salem and played college tennis at Johnson C. Smith University, where he was all-conference for four years. He is a retired college administrator.  He can be reached at

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