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SURRATT: Take advantage of local events to celebrate the Fourth

If you’re counting the days, I guess you could say we’ve almost reached the midway point of summer.

Of course, that little tidbit of information is really meaningless to most of us; what is important is we are a few days away from one of our nation’s most popular holidays, the Fourth of July.

I’m not going to go into the history of the holiday. Let’s just say that it has special meaning to all of us as a day when we celebrate the actions of our forefathers to break away from Mother England to form a nation with a novel experiment called democracy, and that experiment, although threatened recently, is still going strong despite efforts in the past to restrict the rights of others to exercise their freedoms.

Locally, we have our own history to remember. While some of that history is difficult to remember, the official surrender of Vicksburg on July 4, 1863, to Gen. Ulysses Grant was a pivotal point in the Civil War and the effects of that conflict are still with us in some form today.

But on to other things.

The Fourth of July has been traditionally celebrated with picnics, barbeques and fireworks. Growing up, I can remember my family gathering with neighbors for a dinner of chicken, ribs or hamburgers and then going to watch a fireworks display put on by the city.

Those days of my youth are long gone, a victim of age, family members scattered throughout the country and the time, but the thrill of the holiday is still alive and I still enjoy the Fourth.

I guess you could say one reason I enjoy it is because I get a day off from work, but that ain’t always the case. I guess since I’ve been in the newspaper business I’ve probably worked as many July Fourths as I’ve had off. But working the holiday isn’t always a pain. Usually, I’m covering an event that’s going on, like a fair or community celebration of events like the city’s fireworks show and the weekend events at the Vicksburg National Military Park.

Speaking of those events, if you’re going to be at home for the holiday, the local events this weekend are worth attending.

Saturday, the Military Park is hosting the Texas Camel Corps and its tribute to Old Douglas, a camel that served with the 43rd Mississippi Volunteer Infantry during the siege of Vicksburg in 1863. Old Douglas carried the instruments for the regiment’s band and was killed by a Union sniper during the siege.

The park’s cannon detachment will be presenting a cannon firing demonstration Saturday and Sunday at Battery DeGolyer, which is the first tour stop in the park.

And Sunday night, the city’s fireworks extravaganza will fill the sky with bursts of color beginning at 9 p.m. All of these events are good family activities, easily available and free. Since I’m working the holiday weekend, I look forward to seeing you at one or all of the events.

And while you’re out celebrating the Fourth, don’t forget the people on the job to ensure we have a safe and enjoyable holiday — our first responders who are on patrol and at their stations ready to help us. If you see them, give them a wave and tell them thanks.

About John Surratt

John Surratt is a graduate of Louisiana State University with a degree in general studies. He has worked as an editor, reporter and photographer for newspapers in Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama. He has been a member of The Vicksburg Post staff since 2011 and covers city government. He and his wife attend St. Paul Catholic Church and he is a member of the Port City Kiwanis Club.

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