Thursday, July 16, 2015

Independence Day at Clearwater

For the first time in many many years, I spent Independence Day in Florida.

The girls had the idea we would go to the Clearwater Beach celebration. It would be fun sitting on the sand and seeing the lights.

It didn't quite work out that way ...

We ended up at the park near the marina.  There was a terrific crush of people and I began questioning the sanity of coming.

At one point, we found seating with a crowd of people along a concrete ledge near the marina that was perhaps 20 feet above a rocky weedy beach. Of course, the twins wanted OUT of their strollers and I could just see one of them slipping out of our grasp and falling.

Then from time to time, there were flashes of lightning. Not good. Not good at all.

Just let's go home, I silently prayed, as the wind picked up and the smell of rain permeated the air. 

Janae decided we should head back to the car because she didn't want to let the twins get caught in a downpour. 

As we threaded our way through the throng, the weather got better and just as we were about to walk through the gates of the park, the announcer said the authorities felt the storm was blowing over and the Independence Day program would continue.

Deciding to make the best of it, we spread out a blanket on the ground in the first open place we saw. It ended up being a great decision.

The July 4th program on the stage began and we were treated to all kinds of music - two selections I remember hearing was an operatic-type solo, 'Tis a Gift to be Simple, and then a tune from the Beach Boys.

Directly in front of us on a blanket was a little Latino family of a man, woman and toddler.  I got such a kick out of watching them.  The woman and the toddler stood up and danced to every. Single. Song.  If the tune was slow, they marched; or, if it was peppy, they held hands and two-stepped. If the tune was patriotic, they saluted as they marched in time. The man sat on the blanket and nodded and smiled at the toddler but even he stood up with them when Lee Greenwood's "I'm Proud to Be an American," blared over the speaker. 

I know I'm an old softie, but tears stood in my eyes watching this little family enjoy the celebration.

This is what America is all about - the freedom to ...

  • Gather together.  Everyone who wanted to come, could.
  • Dance. It didn't seem to matter to the little family who was watching. They were filled with joy - who cares who saw them having fun?
  • Join.  I don't know if this family was here legally or not. (Let's pretend they were legal.) No matter where you were born, if you want to become an American badly enough, you can. I do believe in the process.  It can be a long arduous journey to become a citizen. I have Swedish friends who became Americans after 15 long years of going through miles of red tape costing them plenty of dollars.  What a proud day for them when citizenship was granted!
  • Come and go where you want. Although I live in the mid-west, I'm free to travel to Florida or anywhere I would like in this beautiful diverse land. I don't have to be checked at every state border crossing.
  • Worship. I can pray wherever and however I see fit. As an American, I am free to stand during our anthem and show respect by putting my hand over my heart. You are free to not do the same, if you so choose.
  • Speak your mind. I may not agree with you, but I will defend your right to say what's on your heart. I hope you will grant me that same privilege.
  • Write what burns inside. We do not have our writings censored. I am free to write about  what I see and feel. If it offends you, you are free to not read it.

Clearwater Beach ended up being the best place ever to spend our Independence Day celebration. The fireworks program was one of the best I've ever seen; but, even more memorable, I saw a portrait of an American family I will never forget.

Mama’s Losin’ It

This post was written in response to Writer's Workshop prompt # 4.  We just celebrated America's Independence. List 7 things you appreciate most about your freedom.

To read more responses, visit Kat Bouska's blog, Mama's Losin' It.


Karen said...

Just reading about the little family in front of you gave me goosebumps. I guess I'm an old softie, too:)

betty said...

How sweet with the family watching the fireworks. I would have been people watching them myself :)

Sounded like a nice time for you and your family too :)


Megan Whitson Lee said...

That's a beautiful story. I'm terrified of lightning, but I'm glad you guys stuck it out.

Joyful said...

Very touching Jerralea! :) Thanks for sharing it with us!