Independence Day isn’t just about fireworks and barbecues, though I like both of those aspects of the holiday. It commemorates a time when the 13 original colonies fought for their freedom from British rule to form the budding democracy of America. Despite nearly two and half centuries of growing pains, I feel honored to live in the United States. I was afforded an opportunity to pursue my dream of becoming a physician and to serve the Northern Virginia community.
I grew up in Bergen County, New Jersey, which is at the northern most tip of the state. For 10 years, I worked each summer for our small town’s Department of Public Works. I had a blast with this job. My work included a wide range of jobs: paving roads; painting all of the different town buildings including the police department’s headquarters; driving a wide range of different town trucks; scuba diving to find the leaks in our town’s monstrous swimming pool; prepping the baseball fields for games; cutting all of the town fields with ride-on tractors; and helping get the town set up for our yearly Fourth of July fireworks display.
It was then that I became, and continue to be, a lover of all forms of fireworks. Our town was small and the budget for fireworks was also small; however, the 15 minutes of fireworks were always amazing to watch with my parents and five siblings. I remember hearing that even our small fireworks display cost $20,000 back when I was only 15 years of age.
When I was older, and training in ophthalmology in New York City, I still thoroughly enjoyed watching the fireworks, but this time from Battery Park at the southern tip of Manhattan with a view of the New York Harbor and the Statue of Liberty.
My family and I have continued to enjoy the fireworks, so popular during July 4 celebrations, but now it is often with a bunch of scouts camping in the western part of Virginia. I love leaning back and being surprised by the colors and booms as the fireworks envelop the sky. It all makes me feel like a 10-year-old kid again!
As we emerge from this pandemic, I hope we can all take time to enjoy simple pleasures and be reminded of how lucky we are each day. I have recently started devoting 10 minutes each night before going to sleep to close my eyes and pray and see how many things I can recall from the day for which I can be thankful. I mentally walk through the entire day, and it always makes me smile to remember the blessings. It also helps me end each day on a positive note.
Thank you to my immediate and extended family, to my friends, and to you, my patients, for giving me so much to be grateful for!