Friday, July 4, 2014

Small Town USA

You know those Fourth of July celebrations that you see in the movies or portrayed on television? The ones that start early in the morning with moon-pie eating contests, three-legged / potato sack races, children’s bike-running races, water-balloon / tossing-egg races, and food; all kinds of food cooking on outside grills and smokers for miles around. Everybody happy and laughing, enjoying one another’s company and knowing every third person you run across. Well, all of my life, THAT’S what I’ve been looking for; what I wanted to believe existed.

My children and I moved to the Sawdust community the week before the 4th of July in 1998. The only people I knew were fellow employees; and they were all kind enough to invite us to come to the fireworks show at the local Greensboro High School. Well I’ll tell you, judging from my own past experiences, I really wasn’t expecting much. 

We drove to the school in my 1987 red Chevrolet Blazer. All I could see was rows and rows of cars and trucks, lined up facing the football field. The trucks all had their tailgates down, and lawn chairs standing up in the beds of the trucks or down below surrounding them.  Children of all ages were everywhere, their clothes screaming red, white and blue; running with lit sparklers, and waving miniature flags on sticks, carefree and happy. Which brings the question: where else in the world can you really let your kids run and roam at will with no worries anymore?

The aroma of hot dogs and boiled peanuts waffled through the air. People were visiting from one vehicle to the next, hugging and greeting old friends. Music was playing in the background, and then, the singing began; Stu Parsons and the Small Change Band. My goodness what a show they put on; that old timey singing that I only ever remembered hearing on TV shows like Hee Haw back in the day.

The darkness continued to close in and the skydivers flew in and dropped to their knees on the infield with the American Flag flowing in the air behind them. People rose to their feet, hands over their hearts, singing the National Anthem loud and clear; followed by cheering, clapping and loud whistles.  At the first shimmering burst of colored bling in the sky; there was no other sound but the ooh’s and aah’s whispered from the darkness.  We sat cloaked in the feeling of a hometown that we never imagined existed, and yet still, like we had been here all of our lives.

Sounds a lot like Mayberry doesn’t it? Well it’s not, but it’s pretty darn close. Everybody should experience that kind of 4th of July at least once in their lives; we’ve now experienced it for many.  The appreciation for your freedom, family, and independence will never feel stronger; I can promise you that. 

God bless the servicemen and servicewomen who protect us and our privilege of all freedoms. God Bless the United States of America.

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