Dear Readers: Today’s column is for the children in your life. I was thrilled to tell this story recently at Meridian Public Library.



t was a beautiful July morning. Brutus, a black/white kitty cat, noticed his entire family was busy in the backyard. His human dad had raised the American flag at the front gate and it was lovely as it fluttered in the breeze.

Brutus looked toward the back gate and saw his best friend Felix, a solid black kitty, who lived across the street, headed his way.

Felix asked, “What’s up?

Brutus answered, as his eyes sparkled, “My humans mentioned something called Independence Day. Have you ever heard of it?”

“Hmm,” Felix narrowed his eyes, as he thought. “Yes, I heard those words this morning, but I don’t have a clue?

Red, white and blue balloons were tied to the fence, with streamers, too. The yummy food was ready. There were grilled hot dogs and hamburgers, chips and dip, baked beans, cold slaw and even a big bowl of fresh fruit.

Felix declared, “What a beautiful sight! I love my family, but if I were to choose another family, it would be yours. They are wonderful, don’t you think?”

Brutus answered, with a lump in his throat, “Yes, I do Felix.”

Just then, Brutus and Felix heard a familiar and friendly voice.

“Hello guys,” greeted Grand Pops. “It sure it good to see y’all.”

Brutus and Felix looked up, with real affection, at the gentle, old man. Grand Pops was the nicest man that they knew. Grand Pops liked them, too, and that was a good feeling.

Mom grinned as she welcomed Grand Pops to their Independence Day barbeque. “I’m glad you are here. In just a few minutes we will have everything ready for our red, white, and blue picnic.”

“Why thank you, dear,” Grand Pops answered with a smile on his face. “First I will help Grand Mom with that very special chocolate-layered cake she baked this morning.”

Grand Mom appeared at the back gate as she held a very large, covered cake carrier. She and Grand Pops waved merrily at everyone as they made their way to the picnic table.

Then all family members, plus Brutus and Felix, gathered around the table to get an up close and personal look at the special dessert. Grand Mom stood back proudly and enjoyed her family’s compliments.

Mom said, “Everyone find your places.”

Dad began, “Now that our entire family is together, I want to remind everyone what this celebration means. It’s hard to sum it all up in one word, but if I could, that word would be freedom, because with freedom, our life in America is so precious.”

Dad glanced at Grand Pops, “You know Grand Pops has had firsthand experience defending our freedom.”

Tears welled up in Grand Pop’s eyes as he looked around the table, with a heart filled with love. He stammered as he began to speak in a soft voice. “I know that over the years I have not spoken too often about those difficult times. It was an experience I wouldn’t wish for anyone, that time when I left for combat duty during the 1940s and World War II. I went to serve my country, along with thousands of young soldiers from throughout the United States. There is no way to clearly explain the love of country that will fill your entire being, until you are away from your homeland in order to defend her. If it had not been for your Grand Mom here, I don’t know if I would have made it.”

Grand Mom reached over and hugged Grand Pops tightly.

Grand Pops continued, “But at that time I realized the most important thing in the world is a loving and supportive family, who lives in the free land of the brave, our United States of America.”

Then with a deep breath, Grand Pops looked at each face around the table and declared, “May God Bless America and May God Bless our family.”


Happy Fourth of July, friends!


Anne McKee is a Mississippi historian, writer and storyteller. She is listed on the Mississippi Humanities Speakers Bureau. See her website:

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