I would venture to say that not many of you know this song:
“I'm a Yankee Doodle dandy,
A Yankee Doodle, do or die;
A real live nephew of my Uncle Sam's,
Born on the Fourth of July.
I've got a Yankee Doodle sweetheart;
She's my Yankee Doodle joy.
Yankee Doodle came to London,
Just to ride the ponies,
I am a Yankee Doodle boy."
This was my father’s theme song and George M. Cohan, who wrote the song, was his favorite person because Dad was born on the Fourth of July just like Cohan. His admiration of Cohan ran so deep that I often wondered if I was named after another song Cohan wrote – “Mary’s A Grand Old Name” (“For it is Mary, Mary, plain as any name can be…..”) When James Cagney starred in the film Yankee Doodle Dandy, Cagney forever became the epitome of George M. Cohan for my dad. We always knew Dad felt he was a ”nephew of uncle Sam.” There wasn’t anyone more patriotic, and being born on the 4th of July underscored it! Yes, we flew the flag every year. It reached from the top of the front porch to a tree at the end of the lawn. He had to stand on a big ladder to fly it lengthwise. It was no ordinary flag, but a huge one that covered all of the lawn to the sidewalk. He was so proud of being an American; this was his day, his birthday, and his way of letting everyone know it. Mother baked his favorite coconut cake and, of course, we had firecrackers. That was part of the 4th celebration. Lots of them. This was a given. We, the children, had sparklers, which we loved. There was no law restricting them then. Did he burn himself? You bet -- several times. But no matter. This was a special day to celebrate his birthday and his patriotism. I loved this special day every year and have never forgotten Dad’s special respect for our flag.