July 4, 2014 at 12:15 pm EDT | by Valerie Blake
Wishing all Americans a happy fourth
American, gay news, Washington Blade

(Photo by Jnn13; courtesy Wikimedia Commons)

Throughout my childhood, my parents led me to believe that the parades, the fireworks and all the pomp and circumstance associated with Independence Day were for me.

You see, I was born on the Fourth of July.

As far back as I can remember my birthday celebration would be a study in red, white and blue, from the clothes I wore to the cake I ate to the paper on the gifts I unwrapped. My formative years were very colorful indeed and I was the epitome of the Yankee Doodle Dandy.

When I turned 18, even the news of my visit to Evart, Michigan (pop. 1,883), where I celebrated my birthday with my high school sweetheart and his family, appeared in the society pages of the now-defunct Evart Review.

That morning, the front page of the small town paper wished its residents a “HAPPY 4TH OF JLUY!” in four inch, boldface type. (I suspect the editor of the paper had celebrated a bit too much himself the night before.)

For decades we have been told that homeownership is the American Dream, but on July 4, 1776, the real American Dream was born when the Declaration of Independence from the Kingdom of Great Britain was adopted. While my age is more hippie than hipster, I was not there the day John Hancock signed his name on the bottom of that life-altering document with his recognizable flourish.

I was around, however, for the bicentennial celebration in 1976, living for the second time in Michigan, adjacent to the Canadian border, where Americans innocently asked whether Canada also had a Fourth of July.  (The answer is yes; it follows the third of July.)

I also had the honor during my previous career of swearing in new citizens of our country at numerous naturalization ceremonies, several of which took place on Independence Day. For most of those immigrants who came to our shores and chose to pledge allegiance to our country, that was and remains the greatest American Dream.

Since then, I’ve had the privilege of representing many people who were the first in their families to purchase a home, a dream many would not have been able to realize were it not for the Civil Rights Act of 1968 and all the federal and state laws and modifications that followed, making up what we now know as equal opportunity housing.

As early as 1944, our nation’s military and veterans could avail themselves of mortgage loans specifically designed to help them achieve stability during and after honorably serving this country. While the current process for obtaining a Veteran’s Administration home loan is often frustrating and time-consuming, the original goal is still a worthy one.

Even now, with our area becoming one of the most expensive housing markets in the country, real estate agents are able to offer the benefits of D.C.’s Home Purchase Assistance Program, Property Tax Abatement Program and the D.C. Open Doors mortgage loan program to clients whose low to moderate income levels may qualify them for these creative methods of promoting homeownership.

My own version of the American Dream began when I bought my first home in the year following the bicentennial. At that time, without email, websites and Facebook, real estate agents used a variety of more traditional methods to market properties and stay in touch with clients.

Over the years, I received birthday and holiday greeting cards, gifts of fruit baskets and seed packets, and monthly recipe postcards from the agents I had worked with, but my favorite marketing display would take place when a house was for sale during the Fourth of July weekend.

About a week before the holiday, the listing agent would come to the house with two-dozen 8×12-inch American flags on sticks, which he or she would pound into the ground on both sides of the front walkway with a rubber mallet. The following Sunday, each open house visitor would walk a patriotic path to the house. It was impressive.

So in the spirit of such patriotism and in remembrance of our forefathers who founded this country and made it possible for each of us to strive to achieve our own American Dream, I wish you all a HAPPY 4TH OF JLUY!

Valerie M. Blake can be reached at Keller Williams Capital Properties, 202-246-8602 or at Valerie@DCHomeQuest.com. Each office is independently owned & operated. Equal Housing Opportunity.

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