The 4th of July is one of my favorite holidays all year. I love to celebrate the Independence of the United States. Thanks to God we were blessed to achieve independence as a country and have prospered exponentially ever since. I am proud to be an American!
In addition to the killer memories of attending 4th of July pancake breakfasts and the flag ceremonies at church I have my own unique reasons for loving this holiday:
1-At age 16, I departed to Honduras on July 4, 1994, to work on a community sanitation public health project with the Amigos program. That was 13 years ago! The night I left, my whole family and our entire Young Women's group accompanied me to the airport to bid me farewell. It was a very sweet, exciting, and nerve-racking experience to know I was leaving the country for six weeks! It was one of the best decisions I've ever made in my entire life. Independence day took on a whole new meaning that night as I left the United States for the first time ever.
2-I returned home from serving my mission for the LDS church on July 4, 2000. Now that was 7 years ago! Independence day took on an even greater meaning that day as I returned home. I can remember stepping off the plane and seeing my family there. The first people I saw were my sister, Darci, and my dad. My mom was just behind them along my big brother, Wilson, and my sis-in-law, Maria, nephew, Joshua, nieces--Allison and Careese along with the Blackmer family of Portland, Oregon, and Elena Collette, an old friend and mission buddy.
3-One year ago on July 4, 2006, I saw my dad alive for the very last time. We spent the evening together for a family BBQ at my big brother, Wilson's house. I served my dad his dinner that night as he couldn't get up and down so easy. I remember we had a chocolate Costco cake for dessert. If any of you knew my dad really well you would know that chocolate cake was at the bottom of his preferred cake flavor list! He didn't care much for chocolate cake at all; however, he did have a taste for Devil's food cake. We had an entire debate that night over whether or not the cake was "chocolate or devil's food" It was fun to go back and forth with him and I can still hear his southern accent repeating the words, "devil's food" with me responding by saying "chocolate." His final words to me that night were "Bye, Storm, I love you." I'll never forget his voice and those words replay in my mind all the time. It makes me cry in an instant and also comforts me to recall those words and know I'll see him again one day. I love you daddy and I miss you so much.