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JACK SIMPSON: Celebrating two milestones on the same day

Another July 4th has come and gone. It is a special holiday celebrating our independence from Great Britain back in 1776. Why am I telling you about it? You already know the Fourth of July is a day for patriotism, music, parades, cookouts, family gatherings and fireworks! Yes, and plenty of flags, sporting events, and maybe even the first watermelon of the season.

This year the Fourth of July was very special for me. Not only did I give thanks for liberty and freedom, and think about the positive aspects of my country, I also thought about how far 90 years are down life’s highway.

Indeed, July 4th is my birthday, and this year I cherished the 90 years I have lived upon this Earth!

How many people get the privilege of 90 years of enjoying this holiday? My day was filled with happiness and good wishes from family and friends. I shared a cookout with loved ones, many of whom traveled hundreds of miles from their homes to participate in this momentous birthday party. I could hardly stand all of those hugs and kisses and wishes for 90 more birthdays just like this one! Happy birthday was sung to me many times in person – at home, at physical therapy, at work and over the phone. I carried the spirit of the holiday with me the live-long-day and managed to retain my enthusiasm even up to today. Unforgettable!

Just think about it. I have been around since 1924, the year when the Winter Olympics were held in Chamonix, France and the Summer Olympics were held in Paris. Calvin Coolidge was president, and my future boss, J. Edgar Hoover, was appointed to head the Federal Bureau of Investigation. Macy’s held the first of their Thanksgiving parades in New York City. Bootleggers were going around shooting their enemies with Thompson submachine guns.

I was born in a small Pennsylvania coalmining town. As I celebrated July 4, 2014, one friend assured me 90 was not old. He said I was really a classic and should be proud of all the lives I had touched positively on my life’s journey. In my many years of public service — as a teacher, writer, government employee and law enforcement officer — I agreed my choices did provide inspiration and opportunity to do some good things. My strength came from a devoted family and good friends just like he is.

Sure, it is hell to get old, but seems like aging is the only way to live a long life (don’t you agree ?). I may have begun my life’s journey like Charles Atlas, but the older I get the more like Buddha I become. I may not yet be over the hill, but those aches and pains tell me the hill is in sight. I know I’m in the autumn of life.

For me it isn’t shawl and slippers time just yet. The professionals at Rockdale Physical Therapy are encouraging me to participate in their Wellness Program. I plan to keep moving and hope everyone will join me next July 4th for a 91st birthday party. See you then, the good Lord willing!

Jack Simpson is a former educator, a veteran, an author and a law enforcement officer. His column appears each Friday.