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Fourth of July holds special memories for Victoria kid

July 2, 2011 at 2:02 a.m.

Jacklyn De Leon, her mother Mandy Hernandez, sister Eli May Salinas, and Alma Gonzales talk about their favorite Fourth of July memories. Jacklyn said she believed Independence Day is important because it "honors the soldiers."

From the red bow clipped in her black hair to the red, white and blue stripes of nail polish on her toes, Jackyln De Leon, 10, is ready for the Fourth of July.

The holiday celebrating the Declaration of Independence is Jacklyn's favorite day of the year.

"I've loved it for as long as I can remember," Jackyln said.

Her family has a long-standing tradition of celebrating the day by getting together for a big party with barbecue, cake and watermelon.

Every year, the adults talk and laugh, the children play games, music is played in the background and everyone dances.

The celebration of the birth of the nation is just three days before her own birthday. It has always felt like the entire country was celebrating her birthday.

"She has always loved it, since she was about 5 years old," Jacklyn's mother, Mandy Hernandez, said.

Jacklyn submitted the top essay in the Advocate's July Fourth memories promotion.

Last year, Jacklyn attended the family party with her mom and her sister Eli May Salinas.

The family ate barbecue and the children played. Everyone danced, as usual. But the day felt special to Jacklyn. She has always loved the holiday, but it was the first time she stopped to really appreciate it.

"My other holidays have been fun, but this seemed different," Jacklyn said.

As it grew dark, everyone piled into their cars and trucks to go watch the fireworks at Victoria Mall.

The sky filled with a dazzling array of light while the air was filled with the booming explosions.

Standing with her mother and sister, all three turned to look back as an aunt called for them to smile.

The camera flash captured them, standing close together, happy smiles already on their faces.

Jacklyn hung the picture on her bedroom wall, and whenever she looks "I think it was different because we were all together, the whole family. It was so much fun," she said.

She had such a great time last year, Jacklyn is celebrating her 11th birthday on the Fourth of July this year.

On Monday, she and family and friends will gather in her front yard to eat barbecue, dance and break open a red, white and blue star-shaped pinata filled with candy.

Even though she'll be celebrating her birthday, Jacklyn won't forget what the nation is celebrating - the Declaration of Independence was signed 235 years ago.

"I think it's good that they did that before. It's good we remember it," she said.



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