Hi I’m Jack Miller, and today’s mid-Missouri Memory is about a very special birthday. On Tuesday, October the 7th, I will reach another milestone in my life. Like all of my birthdays I like to tie it to something more important than myself. This is quite different than the way I thought about birthdays when I was a kid. In those far off days I tied birthdays to toys or a new pet I wanted.

I can remember a few of those birthday presents today, because they were so special at the time, and while I won’t claim to remember the exact birthday, I can get close. The “BB” Gun was given to me before my father passed away so that would have come before I was nine, and I remember that gift for the painful crease it put into my fingers when I held it wrong when I pulled the trigger allowing the lever to snap down on them. A guitar came along in my early teens, which I never learned to even tune let alone play. As a kid birthdays were more about the greedy side of me I guess.

As I grew older the presents became less important than the milestones. For instance on my 17th  birthday I was old enough to join the Navy with Mom’s permission, something I did a little later when my friend Dick Prisendorf who was 11 days younger turned 17 too. At 21 I was able to drink that first beer legally inside a bar, and I might mention that I did not look much older than I did when I got that guitar. After that Birthday the others seemed anti-climatic for awhile.

At 30 I remember the fat cells in my body seemed to sense the birthday, and attacked me adding several pounds every time I took a bite of the chocolate birthday cake my wife baked. That continued through the rest of my birthdays until I reached my present size where one of my legs weighs more than my whole body did when I was 21.

At 50 I received the usual black balloons, and the rest in peace cards something that only seemed funny to my young friends. At 55 I retired from the Navy Reserves, and at 62 I retired from Payless Cashways, since they were on their way to closing anyway.

At 63 I went back to work, not because of my birthday, but because I felt too young to stay home. I worked as a Security Guard as I continued writing a column for the Sedalia Democrat something I started while I was still working for Payless Cashways. At 65 I went to work for KDRO Radio, again not because of my birthday, and not because that station was about to celebrate its 65th birthday either, but think about that synchronicity for a minute. A few years later I came to KSIS Radio to do my Mid-Missouri Memories, and the news, which brings me to the birthday I will celebrate next.

I will again have that unforgiving chocolate cake with enough candles to set off the smoke detectors in the house to celebrate the birthday, but now I think of each birthday as gifts to share with my family. I will turn 76 on October the 7th a birthday I prefer to tie to that historic date of 1776, because at this age I feel like I have been gifted with a long life full of freedom, in a country where that is not just a word.

On my birthday this year I will attempt to avoid any negativity, and will instead count the blessings around me in the shape of my wife, my children, my grandchildren and great grandchildren, as well as my friends. I will instead pursue the happiness our ancestors fought for on its first birthday in1776th.