The Battle of Saratoga

The Battle of Saratoga provided a key early victory for the fledgling American Revolutionary Army. The Battle was actually two. The First Battle of Saratoga, also called the Battle of Freeman’s Farm, saw the American troops prevent the British from breaking through their lines in their attempt to join forces with their troops at Albany. A second attempt failed, this month in history, 1777. At Bemis Heights, the British again attempted to break through enemy lines, but were rebuffed by a more powerful Continental Army. By October 17, British commander John Burgoyne accepted defeat and surrendered. October was a significant month in early American history, as the Battles of Saratoga set the pace for American independence.

It Happens in September

With September comes several important celebrations in the United States. Though the American experiment is young in view of world history, we have much to be proud of. So let’s consider some of the events that are most noteworthy over the next 30 days.

Labor Day – Occurring the first Monday in September, this public holiday marks the unofficial end of summer. Many Americans take their last vacations of the summer to take in one final gasp of the warm outdoors. Forty-one percent of us will travel, mostly by car. The most popular destinations are beaches. Labor Day is akin to “May Day,” the holiday celebrated around the world to salute workers. Among significant Labor Day celebrations in 2015 are “The Taste,” a food festival in Los Angeles, “Abbey Road on the River,” a Beatles tribute festival in Washington, D.C., and Seattle’s “Bumbershoot,” one of the nation’s most popular music festivals.

Patriot Day – While this is not yet a federal holiday, September 11 is considered a day of remembrance for the thousands who perished in the attacks of September 11, 2011, in New York City, Washington, D.C., and Shanksville, Pennsylvania. The most obvious setting for commemorating 9/11, also referred to as “Patriot Day,” is at the three memorials dedicated to victims of the attacks on that horrific day.

Kentucky Bourbon Festival – Bardstown, Kentucky is known as the Bourbon Capital of the World. As such, the town holds the annual Kentucky Bourbon Festival to celebrate the caramel-colored libation. If you are a fan of whiskey, this is a unique fair to visit, held in mid-September each year.

Grapefest – A favorite in Texas since 1986, this is a grape harvesting and wine festival that features grape stomping contests, wine tasting, live music, and the world’s largest consumer-judged wine competition in the nation. It is held in the middle of September each year.

Oktoberfest – Held in late September, this festival of German origins is celebrated with gusto in many parts of the United States. It is a favorite festival for lovers of German beer and bratwurst.

National Book Festival – This is a book lovers dream! The annual event, sponsored by the Library of Congress, features a huge gathering of books and book lovers on the National Mall. Participants can meet authors and browse more than one dozen book pavilions arranged by literary genre.

August Holidays

With every day comes another opportunity to celebrate something. To that end, as Americans we have 43 days of August holidays. That comes out to 1.3870967741935 holidays for every day. But as you browse through these various holidays, I’m sure you will agree it would be really hard to know which ones to cut out. Some are more important than others, of course, such as “Race Your Mouse Day” and “Tooth Fairy Day.” So here’s your monthly installment of national holidays, this time for the month of August.

1 – National Mustard Day

1 – National Raspberry Cream Pie Day

2 – Friendship Day

2 – International Forgiveness Day

2 – National Ice Cream Sandwich Day

2 – Sisters Day

3 – National Watermelon Day

4 – U.S. Coast Guard Day

5 – Work Like a Dog Day

6 – Wiggle Your Toes Day

7 – National Lighthouse Day

8 – Sneak Some Zucchini onto Your Neighbor’s Porch Day

9 – Book Lover’s Day

10 – Lazy Day

10 – National S’mores Day

11 – Presidential Joke Day

11 – Son and Daughter Day

12 – Middle Child’s Day

13 – Left Hander’s Day

14 – National Creamsicle Day

14 – V-J Day

15 – Relaxation Day

16 – National Tell a Joke Day

17 – National Thriftshop Day

18 – Bad Poetry Day

19 – Aviation Day

20 – Chinese Valentine’s Day/Daughter’s Day

20 – National Radio Day

21 – Senior Citizen’s Day

22 – Be an Angel Day

22 – National Tooth Fairy Day

23 – Ride the Wind Day

24 – Vesuvius Day

25 – Kiss and Make Up Day

26 – National Dog Day

26 – Women’s Equality Day

27 – Global Forgiveness Day

27 – Just Because Day

28 – Race Your Mouse Day

29 – Make Herbs, Less Salt Day

30 – Frankenstein Day

30 – Toasted Marshmallow Day

31 – National Trail Mix Day

It Happened in July

In 1963 President Kennedy stood at Rice Stadium in Houston and proclaimed, “We will send a man to the moon and back by the end of this decade. We are going to do it, not because it is easy, but because it is hard.” That promised was fulfilled on July 20, 1969, with Apollo 11. But it almost didn’t happen. On January 27, 1967 the first manned Apollo mission ended at launch, with a cabin fire claiming the lives of all three astronauts. But America pushed on. Ten missions later, on July 16, 1969, Apollo 11 launched successfully, and history was about to be made. For 21 hours, the craft sat on the surface of the moon. Buzz Aldrin recognized the greatness of his creator, as he took communion in celebration of the event, two hours after landing. On Monday, July 21, Neil Armstrong opened the hatch of his craft. He then began a slow decent to the surface. An estimated 600 million viewers around the world saw history.

Still on the nine-rung ladder, Armstrong uncovered a plaque which read, “Here men from the planet Earth first set foot upon the Moon, July 1969 A.D. We come in peace for all mankind.” And then, Neil Armstrong did what previous generations would have only imagined in a comic book. He stepped onto the surface of the moon. I still hear his words, echoing through the corridors of time. “That’s one small step for man, one giant step for mankind.” Six hours later, Aldrin joined him, describing the view as “magnificent desolation.”

Twelve men have walked on the moon, all Americans. Eugene Cernan was the last, in 1972. Some day, NASA hopes to put a man on Mars. My grandfather thought he’d never see a man on the moon. He was born before the car, yet lived to see that historic event. Walking on Mars seems less impossible to me than walking on the moon must have seen to my grandfather when he read about the Wright Brothers’ flight, while he was eight years old. There are still worlds to be conquered. But it would not have been possible if not for the leadership of President Kennedy, the courage of the astronauts who gave their lives for the cause in 1967, and the men who finally took the steps on the lunar surface in 1969. Indeed, it was “one small step for man, one giant step for mankind.” There’s a lesson there. It was a giant step, not a giant leap. All great journeys begin with a giant step. You will take certain steps today. They will be small steps. But by taking them in the right direction, your small steps can become giant.

July Holidays in America

For those of you on summer vacation, America has something to offer every day of July. On some days, you have multiple options of celebrations and activities. Here is a sampling of July holidays in America.

1 – Canada Day

1 – Creative Ice Cream Flavors Day

1 – International Joke Day

2 – I Forgot Day

2 – World UFO Day

3 – Compliment Your Mirror Day

3 – Disobedience Day

3 – Stay Out of the Sun Day

4 – Independence Day

4 – National Country Music Day

4 – Sidewalk Egg Frying Day

5 – Build a Scarecrow Day

5 – Work-a-holics Day

6 – Fried Chicken Day

7 – Chocolate Day

7 – Strawberry Sundae Day

8 – Video Games Day

9 – Sugar Cookie Day

10 – Teddy Bear Picnic Day

11 – Cheer Up the Lonely Day

12 – Different Colored Eyes Day

12 – Pecan Pie Day

13 – Barbershop Music Appreciation Day

13 – Embrace Your Greatness Day

13 – Fool’s Paradise Day

14 – Bastille Day

14 – Pandemonium Day

15 – Tapioca Pudding Day

15 – Cow Appreciation Day

16 – Fresh Spinach Day

17 – Peach Ice Cream Day

17 – Yellow Pig Day

18 – National Caviar Day

19 – National Ice Cream Day

19 – Raspberry Cake Day

20 – National Lollipop Day

20 – Moon Day

20 – Ugly Truck Day

21 – National Junk Food Day

22 – Hammock Day

22 – Ratcatcher’s Day

23 – National Hot Dog Day

23 – Vanilla Ice Cream Day

24 – Amelia Earhart Day

24 – Cousins Day

25 – Culinarians Day

25 – Threading the Needle Day

26 – All or Nothing Day

26 – Aunt and Uncle Day

26 – Parent’s Day

27 – Take Your Pants for a Walk Day

28 – National Milk Chocolate Day

29 – National Lasagna Day

30 – National Cheesecake Day

30 – Father-in-Law Day

30 – Day of Friendship

31 – Mutt’s Day

America’s Best July 4 Fireworks

It’s a part of who we are as Americans. We love our fireworks, especially on July 4. While every town in America gets in on the act, the bigger the fireworks, the better. And no one does July 4 fireworks like our big cities. They spend millions of dollars for 15 minutes of glory. For those of you fortunate enough to get to the big city this July 4, check out these impressive fireworks displays. We have compiled several lists of the best, from many sources. Here, we present a consensus of the 15 best places to watch fireworks this July 4, starting with the very best.

1. Addison, Texas. This north Texas city offers the largest fireworks display in the Dallas-Ft. Worth area. With more than 1,500 pounds of fireworks, this Texas-sized party – complete with live entertainment and air shows – has been recognized by the American Pyrotechnics Association for its over-the-top demonstration.

2. Atlantic City, New Jersey. Visible for a one-mile stretch of the boardwalk and beach from Revel Resort to the Atlantic Club, the fireworks in Atlantic City are a show that must not be missed. Following the fireworks, a 3-D light show will debut in the Boardwalk Hall façade and will continue every night for the next year.

3. Boston, Massachusetts. Sponsored by the Boston Pops, this spectacular attracts 500,000 people to the Charles River for the best view, every year. The fireworks are accompanied by concerts. Locals argue that the best viewing is across the river in Cambridge, MA.

4. Chicago, Illinois. The Navy Pier is the place to be in the Windy City this July 4. They offer a dinner cruise on Lake Michigan, offering a spectacular view with the massive city skyline as a backdrop, beyond the Lake.

5. Houston, Texas. America’s fourth largest city (soon to be third) proves everything is bigger in Texas. They offer the nation’s largest land-based fireworks show. The annual “Freedom Over Texas” celebration features a full six hours of family fun activities and entertainment, followed by a massive fireworks show that is choreographed to music.

6. Lake Tahoe, California. Dig your feet into the sand at Lake Tahoe and take in a display that The Today Show recently recognized as one of America’s best. Best viewing is from the beach – Edgewood or Lakeside Beach. It’s so big they gave it a name – “The Lights on the Lake Spectacular.”

7. Nashville, Tennessee. They offer fun for the whole family in the Music City. “Let Freedom Sing” attracts the largest July 4 crowd in the South. The 27-minute fireworks show is choreographed to a live performance by the Grammy award-winning Nashville Symphony Orchestra.

8. New Orleans, Louisiana. Barges battle on the Mississippi River at “Go 4th on the River in New Orleans.” The fireworks display, set to music provided by the Navy Band, can be seen from many places around New Orleans if you want to avoid the downtown traffic.

9. New York City, New York. They offer the country’s largest pyrotechnic show in New York, with fireworks shot from multiple barges along the East River near the Brooklyn Bridge. In addition to the fireworks, the event features performances by A-list artists from around the country.

10. Pasadena, California. This one is a Rose Bowl Stadium tradition. They have perfected this for over 85 years. The largest show in Southern California, the fun-filled event begins at 2:00 p.m. and includes live entertainment, motorcycle stunts, exhibits, vendors, and a Pyro Spectacular by Souza Fourth of July fireworks show at 9:00 p.m.

The Rest – These are just outside our “Top Ten” list. But if you can’t get to the others, try one of these. In Philadelphia, lay out a blanket along Boa Row or in Schuylkill River Park. In San Francisco, take in the music of the Air Force Band and set your chair near Fisherman’s Wharf. If you live in the nation’s heartland, St. Louis is the place to be. “America’s Biggest Birthday Party” is set by the beautiful arch. Or check out the show at Washington, D.C., where they launch the fireworks from behind the Capitol and Washington Monument. And if you can’t get to any of those, there is one more place to view the July 4 spectacular. It may be the best place of all. Try your home town. There is nothing better than joining with family and friends to celebrate the big day. This is a great time to remember all that is good about America. Happy 239th birthday, America. May we all join in on the celebration!