A beautiful summer blows in on a cool zephyr. We did the small town scene to celebrate Independence Day, trekking into the downtown with a Mexican quiche and our red, white and blue coconut stars at 9:30, meeting with friends at their home along the parade ground. They throw their doors open for about thirty of us. Bringing chairs, we watch the parade from their lawn. They also provide fresh cold water with cups for anyone walking by and bowls of water for dogs.
The tension was building when we arrive. Two red and yellow biplanes in formation drone past at 10:13 and then did a return run. Emergency sirens screamed. The parade commences.
Up the street marches the VFW honor guard. The city band follows, leading a phalanx of state, city and county dignataries...drum and pipes...floats and dancers, fire trucks, horses and cars. People cheer and clap or hold still and silent to signal their impression of the message the entry espouses.
Most entries represent businesses or non-profit groups. About a fifth of the entries took the trouble to create a genuine float. Abe Lincoln was a major theme. Most of the other parade entries were a motor vehicle with a scene attached and a few people in tee shirts riding it or walking behind it, throwing treats.
A number of bands play. Most offering march tunes heavy on the brass but the Rewinds do rock and roll. One young woman sings Yankee Doodle Dandy from a truck bed. Wired with amps and speakers, she demonstrates a lovely voice that carries above the noise, gaining enthusiastic clapping. While I enjoy her, my heart belongs to the bagpipes and drums. Their sound was fresh and evocative.
Watching the spectacle, it's easy to remember that every freedom and decision has a cost associated with it. Freedom is intangible, hard to define within the thresholds of national security and democracy. We worry about the future as the past worried about the future. Many were celebrating different aspects of our freedoms and history. Religious groups tout Jesus and the Bible. Progressive groups celebrated the end of DOMA and demanded an end to GMO produce. Hand painted signs wave, denouncing corporate citizenship and urging more jobs and justice.
After almost two hours, the parade ends. The populace streams down to Lithia park to eat, drink and buy things. The booths and offerings are rehashes from the last six years. We head home after a short while.
The day pleasantly buildings, reaching the high 80s with light clouds and a playful breeze. We drift through chores as though the day is nothing special and eat burritos for dinner. The celebration fades from my mind until red and green splashing across the night.
Rockets whistle. Explosions boom and grunt. A sky battle is visible over the trees from my office window, ongoing as I typed this, prompting recollections of Fort McHenry and the Star Spangled Banner's origins. A sulfurous haze taints the cool nightscape and snakes in through the open window.
The noises worry the cats. We've brought them in and they're scrambling to hide. At my wife's urging, I provide Tux shelter in the garage. He seems grateful.
A few fire crackers snap down the street. Emergency vehicle sirens echo through the neighborhoods, triggering memories of past firework disasters and the things that can go awry when playing with explosives.
Here's to another year in the books. Happy Independence Day.
Causes Michael Seidel Supports
Kiva, Women's International League for Peace and Freedom, Propublica.org, Doctors Without Borders, GreaterGood.com