Mom spent her early childhood in Darfur, a very small town in southwestern Minnesota. From their home it was a short walk up a hill to the local creamery. There they got milk, butter, and cream that they carried home in their own containers. Mom raved about the wonderful things they made from those fresh dairy products. She learned to love June strawberries with thick cream, and warm home-baked bread was heavenly with fresh butter and strawberry jam. Spring, especially June, with its flowers and strawberries, was her favorite time of year.

In that little town was a man who did odd jobs for people. I’ll call him John. He was a happy soul, forever smiling and willing. He would carry packages, cut grass, play with family dogs, anything that seemed to want doing, he did.

A town-wide celebration was held each fourth of July. There was a big picnic in an open area; people brought baskets of food for a potluck dinner. A farmer or two brought the plow horses to town to provide rides for the children, and those who played instruments provided music for dancing and entertainment. There were games for the young and old to play together. After morning chores were done, no work was done on that day.

Early in the day each July 4th John would set out with a small flag. It was his favorite day of the year. He walked everywhere waving his flag and greeting people with, “Rah for the fourth!” From the time my siblings and I were small, we have recognized July 4th by greeting one another that way. It sounds silly when I talk about it, but it brings with it so many memories of Mom and her stories of Darfur. And so this morning, as we almost always do, we emailed, “Rah for the 4th.”