Born on the Fourth

When Gwen Rodriguez was growing up in Oklahoma, the Fourth of July fell during harvest time, so she spent the day working in the wheat fields with her family. It may have been the nations birthday — and Gwens — but there wasnt much in the way of celebration other than a homemade cake.

Now a resident of Woodbridge and an Air Force wife, Rodriguez knows all about big fireworks shows and major productions.

She is one of many local residents born on Independence Day.

The coincidence has its perks: Most people have the day off, theres always a party going on and nobody can get away with saying they cant remember your birthday.

And then there are the fireworks, which many July 4 babies, at some point in their lives, seemed to believe were meant only for them.

“I used to think everybody was celebrating my birthday. Then I got to learn about Independence Day and what it was all about and that spoiled that,” said Robert L. Clark, who turns 44 today.

The Woodbridge resident usually gets together with his family and celebrates with a bushel of crabs and cold beer.

Being born on July 4 also means hearing the, “Wow, you came out with a bang,” joke about a thousand times, said Mary Diner, of Dale City.

Still, she proudly declares herself a real Yankee Doodle Dandy, who loves apple pie and tears up when she hears the National Anthem.

Had Monika Kreses life taken a different turn, her birthday would be like any other. The Dale City woman was born in Germany on July 4, adopted by an American couple and raised in a military family.

“If Id stayed over there, it wouldnt mean a thing,” said Krese, who is celebrating her 50th birthday today.

As it turns out, Krese said she couldnt be more patriotic. Shes worked in the civil service for the Air Force for 33 years, her father and son were both in the Army and her husband is a former Marine.

Joanne Davis, of Dale City, said love of country was the first thing she was taught. She said she loves sharing a birthday with the nation and always wears red, white and blue — year-round.

Some people born on the Fourth of July admitted to feeling a bit left out when their birthdays were overshadowed by a national holiday.

“Everyone is busy planning cookouts, shopping, beaches, et cetera. If I am lucky, someone will say, ‘Oh, it’s your birthday,'” said Julia Irvin, 66, of Unionville.

Krese and Rodriguez said it can be hard to have big parties because their friends are away on vacation or busy with their families.

“It’s a very hard day to have a birthday party,” Krese said. “I’ve had one, when I was five years old.”

So family picnics are the order of the day.

Edward Latimer plans to eat watermelon and homemade ice cream with his family in Woodbridge to celebrate his 63rd birthday. “We have a big to-do,” he said.

But not everyone wants a cookout with candles. Twins Shaunte and Stefanie Murphy-Boykins are getting a trip to New York City for their 17th birthday. The Gar-Field Senior High School students’ uncle is taking them to the Big Apple this weekend.

Staff writer Kate Bissell can be reached at (703) 878-8068.

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