We had went to Clearwater Beach for a fireworks display. Our hope was to be right on the beach, but the crush of people present and ominous threatening thunderclouds overhead posed some problems. The program had been delayed and it was getting late. I was already wishing to go home ...
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.
Adapted from an earlier post ...
I'll be sharing this post later today at Jennifer's #TellHisStory ....