Something to CelebratePosted by Fred
Hundreds of American flags surrounded the old brick town hall … to the right, to the left and all the way up the block as far as the eye could see. As I turned to lock my car, I realized the park across the street was filled with fluttering flags, too. Affixed to each flag’s standard was the name and picture of an American military hero from Monroe County who was either currently serving our country, or had made the supreme sacrifice in defense of freedom.
As I mounted the first step to the hall where the reception was being held, I was drawn to look one more time at the sea of red, white and blue behind me. Two thoughts elbowed their way past the vision of my friend and his new bride greeting me with broad smiles at the top of the stairs.
To begin with, a patriotic display like this wouldn’t be possible back home. Some malcontent who finds the symbol of our great nation offensive would show up with his fat wallet and fancy lawyer to rip it down, instead of simply averting his allegedly offended eyes. And speaking of things that offend, I couldn’t help but think how it sandpapers my skin to see occasions like the Fourth of July so heavily commercialized for profit or, even worse, re-defined to fit some political agenda … as are so many celebrations of American exceptionalism. The people in this area actually get it! No wonder the last time I returned from Tennessee I told my friends, “I just spent a week in America.”
Only a few days ago, a national figure seized upon the occasion of our nation’s birth to misrepresent The Statue of Liberty, herself, as a statue of immigration! Perhaps he was confused by Emma Lazarus’ poem which was added to the pedestal many years after Miss Liberty was erected.
In fact, The Statue stands for the freedom and democracy won during our revolutionary war … so much admired by the French that they gifted us with the great lady of the harbor as a sign of friendship in 1886. Like our flag, which has carried freedom forward to so many darkened corners of the world, her torch illuminates those corners and brings the light of hope to the oppressed. While she may often have been the first glorious sight for those seeking America’s opportunity, it is Ellis Island that was immigration’s front door until 1954.
As my long sleeved jacket and tight white collar generated more than a bead of perspiration in the summer sun, I imagined how stifling the room must have been in Philadelphia as John Adams, Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Jefferson, Robert R. Livingston and Roger Sherman hammered out the details of The Declaration of Independence in 1776. Parades, speeches, bedding sales and barbecues notwithstanding, think of the verbal fireworks at the Continental Congress, as our founding fathers lit the fuse for that first Fourth of July!
As I watched the field of flags waving in the summer sun, I reflected upon the sacrifices by all those who made it possible for me to be there that afternoon, without fear of reprisal for what I might say or do … made it possible to pass safely and unimpeded from state to state and shake the hand of a good friend beginning a new life.
We ate, drank and danced as a caring couple swore their devotion to each other before God, no matter what the future might bring. It reminded me of a group of caring patriots who pledged their lives, fortunes and sacred honor to a new nation a few hundred years ago. As I thought about the optimism of that couple and the dedication of those founders, I prayed that we would always have this great freedom to celebrate and a field of flags to tell the story of our resolve, no matter what the future might bring.
Listen to Bananas Crackers and Nuts Podcast. Find Links under “Recent Podcasts”… and more shows on my Podcast Page.