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Word Smith

As the Fourth of July holiday approaches, I get a bit slaphappy. After all, there are parades, fireworks, barbecues and the opportunity to spend time with friends and enjoy the great outdoors. This year, it’s even more of a treat, with the holiday falling on a Friday.

I pin on a rhinestone American flag and find some red, white and blue to wear. I wish acquaintances and co-workers a “Happy Fourth,” just the way we all do.

And yet, as Independence Day draws near, it is not unusual for me to cry.



Two people I loved very much died in the month of July. Since then, the Fourth of July remains a day for fun, but it also a time when I really need the love and reassurance that family and friends provide.

Sean was a huge Bruce Springsteen fan. He was born and raised in New Jersey, so felt he had a bond with “The Boss.”



Sean saw Springsteen perform in Tallahassee many years ago. I was lucky to have been at the same show. A friend of mine who has seen Springsteen 60 (yes, that’s sixty) times, says the Tallahassee performance was the best he’s ever experienced.

More than two years ago, Sean was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. He was 48 years old and died within four months. He left behind a wife, mother, four brothers and hundreds of devastated friends.

The anniversary of his death is July 12.

Lyndon was a world-class runner from Vail and was married with two young sons. He was energetic, funny and loved life. A tall, lanky athlete who always finished at the head of the pack in Eagle County races, Lyndon traveled overseas to compete in the elite sport of sky-running.

Five years ago, he was on a training run in Italy, near the Swiss border. He fell into a deep crevasse, tumbling down head-first. The cause of death was drowning. Some 800 people attended his memorial service at the top of Vail, overlooking the Mount of the Holy Cross.

The anniversary of his death is July 10.

So along with parties and socializing comes reflection. I miss these men so much my heart hurts and, at times, I cannot quite accept they are gone. The things that are really important to me – family, friends, faith, good health, happiness – are as clear as Colorado’s brilliant blue sky when the Fourth of July rolls around.

The ever-present display of American flags pushes me a step further. After Sept. 11, 2001, one of our nation’s mottos became, “We Will Never Forget.”

I feel I knew Sean well enough to say he would have loved these words from “Into the Fire,” off Springsteen’s most recent CD, “The Rising.”

“May your strength give us strength,

May your faith give us faith,

May your hope give us hope,

May your love give us love.”

I’ll bring some Kleenex with me to the parade.

Have a wonderful and safe Fourth of July.

Valerie J. Smith is publisher of the Post Independent.


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