Fourth of July Variations

Bob Dvorak has been a busy boy. Here are his offerings for the Fourth of July.

One of the community highlights on the Fourth of July is the annual free presentation in the park by the local Gilbert & Sullivan Society. In addition to the usual cast of local thespians, it’s traditional that extras be chosen from the community at large — for whom only one rehearsal is truly required.

Eight-year old Billy came home Tuesday afternoon full of excitement. “I’m going to be a PIRATE!” he told his parents. “I’m in two scenes on stage!”

Amidst the congratulations from his family (and we’re sure the neighbors also knew), his father told him it was an In the Penzance Day he’d never forget.

It was to be Fitzsimmons Motors’ annual summer blowout sale. Fourth of July weekend, drastic price reductions and financing incentives on all vehicles.

Gary had finished roaming the “Previously-Owned” lot and was heading to the New-Car lot as the thunderclouds rolled in. The wind rose and a sudden gust whipped the clothesline of triangular flags from its moorings, spun it around, and dropped it in a heap, covering him.

It was an In-the-Pennants Day he’d never forget.

Father Joseph Sullivan, C.S.C, had a long-established holiday tradition. Students, faculty, and neighbors of the University of Notre Dame would flock to his confessional on the July 4th weekend for the Sacrament of Reconciliation. For it had long been known that in lieu of the usual prayers and novenas that were meted out after Confession, Father Joe had established a tradition of giving “service to the South Bend community” on the Fourth.

Locally it was referred to as “Indy Penance Day.”

There may be something slightly askew in getting married on Independence Day, but, yes, my spouse and I were married on the Fourth of July some thirty years ago.

This year, in the way of a gift, I decided to do something just a bit different. I acquired thirty identical lockets, but in each I placed an item to recall a different memory whenever she selected one: a baby picture, a honeymoon photo, the long-ago Caribbean cruise, a shark’s tooth from Myrtle Beach, and so on.

A loving gift: In the Pendants Day.

Years ago the pastor of St. Alphonsus’ Church started a tradition. Knowing that nearly everyone was home on the Fourth of July, and therefore available, he selected that day for a special ceremony long before the parades, fireworks, and flag-waving began.

All the self-confessed sinners of the parish would gather at dawn for a communal prayer, breakfast, and reiteration of their commitment to the Law of God and love for one another.

Father John, in turn, reassured them that, having demonstrated proper remorse before the Lord, they had escaped the damnation of Eternal Fire. This event was, of course, labeled the “Inter-Penitents Stay”.

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