On this Fourth of July morning, I am surrounded by an assortment of hand-carved, wooden Uncle Sams. Each is different and special to me; all remind me of my love of this country and the depth of my patriotism.
Every one of them (the smiling ones and the serious ones) also reminds me of Tom.
He was a tall and lanky guy, known for the broad smile he showed off often and with ease. He was friendly and fun. For me, he was always “the life of the party.”
Because of his natural likeness to the American icon, Tom enjoyed nothing more than taking on the persona of Uncle Sam on the Fourth of July. Seeing him ride on a float in the neighborhood parade or passing out small American flags to children were delightful sights.
I purchased my first Uncle Sam statue in 1995, shortly after Tom died.
I spotted it at a high-end gift shop. It was of fine quality and expensive. Even so, it looked so much like Tom that I just had to bring it home. Ever since, that particular Uncle Sam has been close by, sitting on a shelf in my home office.
The other Uncle Sams in my collection were acquired over the years — most often without intention. I’d walk into an antique shop, discovered on one of my travels, and there, amidst dust and clutter, would sit another irresistible likeness of Tom.
On the Fourth of July, I unpack all of my treasured collectibles and bring them out for all to see. I scatter them around — on hedges and tabletops! I smile when I look at them and sometimes I cry.
But always, I remember a man I loved and the birth of a country we loved to celebrate together!