We were sitting on the porch this morning, like we often do, talking and sipping coffee. We weren’t talking about anything momentous – the coming week, the kids, household needs, planning. Like you do. I had my camera, as I’m still trying to catch the little red-bird fighting his reflection, and when the first part of the parade passed by, I was in the perfect place to take a shot from the comfort of my own chair. But let me go back a little.
We live in a small town in Ohio, which might not be the heart of the USA, but it’s certainly in the heartland. We were both raised in small towns, and have chosen them to live in for most of our adult lives. This is home to us – the folks who farm, and work, and love the land. These are the people who believe along with us that we are small parts of the greatest nation in the world, and we love our country even if we are mostly exasperated with the government these days.
And this is how we show it – we throw a birthday party for our country every fourth of July. We decorate, we fire off fireworks if they’re legal, or not. And not just little ones – last night at bedtime I’d commented to the First Reader that I couldn’t tell if the fireworks I was hearing were a town display, or someone being enthusiastic and he replied ‘never underestimate enthusiasm.’ But most of all, the small town USA puts on a parade. It’s not true that everyone in town is in the parade – there needs to be an audience! – but anyone who can muster some bunting and put the shine on can take part, usually. We were talking about parades we’ve seen and been in. I remember watching parades in Tok, AK as a girl, with bike riders who’d woven streamers in their spokes. A family friend dipped her American Eskimo dogs in food coloring to walk a fluffy band of red, white, and blue pooches in that parade one year. He remembers Crab Orchard Kentucky with mini bikes and polished trucks making the circle so anyone who’d missed the first pass would be sure to take in the town’s pride and joy.
We weren’t in town, this morning. We were sitting on our front porch, when the parade passed by. Not all of it – we’re on the road that cuts around town, but it was easy to tell that the tractors pulling bunting-decked wagons were headed for the staging area. Which was a treat for us, sipping coffee and not having to find parking among the crowds that will be gathering. We celebrate more quietly, most years. Our kids may go see fireworks with friends tonight, but we have work in the morning and don’t plan to stay up late. Which is, in it’s own way, part of our celebration. We work hard because there is work, and because we can earn money to put in the bank without worrying that the money will vanish. We can sit on the porch making plans for the future, dreaming dreams and setting goals, because we have the freedom to do so. We have the liberty to live as we want.
Happy Birthday, America!
PS: The First Reader points out that our evening may include viewings of Yankee Doodle Dandy, or 1776!, or both.