Hot dogs, apple pie, and fireworks pretty much sum up what most of us consider a perfectly perfect, traditional Fourth of July. Regardless of how old we get, there’s something about that flag waving holiday that just screams Americana and brings out the patriot in all of us. It’s a day when, hopefully, both sides of the political arena can put aside their bickering and play nice in honor of Uncle Sam for at least a few hours.
Before you light your sparklers this year, let this little factoid rattle around your head for a minute or two: When the Declaration of Independence was signed in 1776, the population of our nation is estimated to have been somewhere in the neighborhood of 2.5 million. In 2017, our population was 325.7 million, according to the United States Census Bureau. That’s a lot of hot dogs!
The National Hot Dog and Sausage Council reports that 50 million hot dogs will get eaten on Wednesday. They claim that’s enough hot dogs to make a line of weenies from Los Angeles to Washington D.C. more than five times. (Get a visual of that!) But I’m a skeptic; who figures this stuff out, anyway? Are they measuring “as the crow flies?” Only major highways? What about country roads? Rivers? Lakes? Streams? Let’s face it, going over a mountain requires a lot more wieners than straight road, right? (This is where my mind goes when I come across interesting “facts.” But I digress…)
Speaking of facts that catch my attention, I find it fascinating that John Adams and Thomas Jefferson died within hours of each other on July 4, 1826—the 50th anniversary of the vote to approve the Declaration of Independence. President James Monroe also died on July 4 (1831). President Calvin Coolidge was born on July 4, 1872. Apparently I'm easily impressed, but this seems like quite a remarkable coincidence.
Each year, we celebrate Independence Day with parades, bar-b-que, concerts, picnics, family and friends and it’s easy to get so caught up in the festivities that we forget what the holiday is all about. As we take a necessary moment to remember our Founding Fathers and our “ragged old flag,” here’s another reason to celebrate: Benjamin Franklin was 70 years old when he signed the Declaration of Independence. Seventeen of the 56 signers were over the age of 50. That means as Bloomin’ Boomers, we can’t use age as an excuse to stop striving for success — we can't let a "number" make us give up on trying to make a huge difference in our messy world. With a little luck and some decent health maintenance, we've got a lot of living ahead of us. It's never too late to attempt to leave the world a better place than we found it.
Yes, that’s my apple pie and hot dog sauce. Yes, the recipes included are the ones used to create the food in the photos. And yes, I will again this year enjoy all of the trappings and traditions of the day. Grab a brewski, light the grill, get the fireworks ready, protect your fur-babies from the noise and make it a memorable day. You can get back to planning how you’re going to top “what Benjamin did at 70” on Thursday.
Today, we party.
PS: Hey, boys! If these recipes are a little too "girly" for your masculine reading tastes, hang on! I'm headed to THE COKE ZERO SUGAR 400 at Daytona International Speedway. Considering that writing what I know about Nascar racing at this point would fit on the back of a postage stamp, my next blog should be a real doozy!
Johnny Cash, "Ragged Old Flag"
My Favorite Hot Dog Chili Sauce
1 lb ground meat
1 (15 1/2 oz) can tomato sauce
2 1/2 tablespoons chili powder
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon cumin
1/2 teaspoon Worcestershire Sauce
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp black pepper
1/4 tsp sugar
Cayenne pepper to taste
1/2 cup beef broth
1 can H‑E‑B Borracho Beans with Shiner Bock
Brown ground beef and onion. Add next 10 ingredients and bring to a boil. Lower heat and simmer for 10-15 minutes. Drain Borracho Beans and add to the chili sauce. Simmer until beans are warm. Enjoy!
God Bless America
God bless America Land that I love Stand beside her And guide her Through the night with the light from above
From the mountains To the prairies To the oceans White with foam God bless America My home sweet home
From the mountains To the prairies To the oceans White with foam
God bless America My home sweet home God bless America My home sweet home
By Irving Berlin
The New Colossus
Not like the brazen giant of Greek fame, With conquering limbs astride from land to land; Here at our sea-washed, sunset gates shall stand A mighty woman with a torch, whose flame Is the imprisoned lightning, and her name MOTHER OF EXILES. From her beacon-hand Glows world-wide welcome; her mild eyes command The air-bridged harbor that twin cities frame.
"Keep, ancient lands, your storied pomp!" cries she With silent lips. "Give me your tired, your poor, Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, The wretched refuse of your teeming shore. Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me, I lift my lamp beside the golden door!"
("The New Colossus" casting/engraving by Emma Lazarus can be found on a plaque hanging inside the Statue of Liberty. It has been there since its unveiling in 1903.)
*** All photos were taken by me, with the exception of the South Dakota Badland's prairie dog, and Lady Liberty; user rights, "labeled for reuse"