posted on Jul, 6 2008 @ 02:08 AM
The rain is light, but soaking none the less.
Several hundred of us gathered together. 99% here were total strangers to me. As diverse a group as you might ever find. I dare say that every race,
creed, religion, and sexual orientation were represented here.
Some believed in god. Some did not.
Some listened to Heavy metal. Some listened to Beethoven. Some listened to both.
Some believed we landed on the moon. Some did not.
Some looked to the sky and saw flying saucers, while others saw nothing more than an everyday airplane caught in a simple sunglare effect.
As different a group as could be assembled.
As I looked around, I saw many people huddled against the rain in their own tight little groups.
I was alone.
There is one thing every group had in common, including me. We all had a reason to celebrate.
The 4th of July. A HUGE reason to celebrate. The birthday of the greatest Nation ever to be born.
(Please, let's not make this a debate of the current USA policies. I disagree with todays policies as well, but I LOVE my Country. OK?)
That was not the only reason to celebrate on this rainy day. We all had another reason to celebrate. We celebrated the memory of a loved one no longer
with us, all of whom were valiant defenders of our country. Some of those remembered were old and lived a long life, some were mere kids taken by an
The celebration was as typical of America as could be. We were at the local VFW hall, there were rows of collapsable tables, and chairs. Each table
was covered with a disposable red, white, and blue table cloth. A buffet of 'clog your arteries' food was on display. You know - pulled pork in BBQ
sauce, a couple different pastas, sausage and peppers, corn on the cob, and freshly cooked burgers and dogs served up by the proud vets manning the
grills. Oh, and the local beer on tap. Lot's and lot's of that of beer flowing from the taps.
It's complete simplicity is precisely what made it so perfect.
I made my way around the room and met everyone. I ate, and drank with my new friends.
After several hours of getting to know everyone, we were asked to stand. The Star Spangled Banner was played. It was an instrumental version, but the
room echoed with all of us singing the lyrics.
From the back room, several men dressed in their uniforms pushed a table into the middle of the room. How they still fit in their uniforms amazes me.
I couldn't fit in mine if I tried.
Anyway on the table were a bunch of boxes. They began to call out the names of people in attendance. Each of those called were given one of the boxes
from the table.
I stood and went to the table. They handed me a box. I looked at it, and there was a red, white, and blue sticker on it which had my name written on
it in indelible marker. All eyes were on me. I opened the box and pulled out it's contents. It was covered in tissue paper.
I pulled the tissue paper away.
I'll NEVER forget that moment. It will stand forever frozen in my mind.
A wooden picture frame. I remember the day the picture in the frame was taken. It was July 4th when I was 7 years old.
Smiling from the picture frame was my Dad, and myself. I was riding in an APC for the parade. My Dad in a rare moment was smiling. I looked like such
a dork. Wearing a little uniform, a hat which was too small, and a grin missing a tooth. My dad had his arm around me.
Emotions - what a concept. I stood before the room dumbfounded. What do I say? What do I do? I looked around the room. Hard to see when you're misty
and stuff. I shook hands with the vets who surrounded the table. I was afraid to say anything as I knew my words just might break up. I whispered
thank you. (This all took maybe 10 seconds.) Then I turned back to the room. I held the picture up before me for the audience to view.
"My Dad. My Hero."
It's all I could think of to say.
I went back to my seat. The emotions were almost surreal. I was by myself, but I was not alone. I was alone, but not by myself.
Have you ever KNOWN that someone was there with you? I thought I did, but now I know. I was kind of teary eyed. Not blubbery or anything, bit misted
over for sure.
As clear as a bell I heard in my mind:
"On your feet soldier! Don't you dare cry for me. Tears are for the weak."
Well I guess I'm weak.
Anyway, once it got dark they had a fireworks display. What is it about the show of light in the sky, and the quaking boom of an aerial burst which
make you feel so alive?
I held my picture. (By the way, where the hell did these guys get this picture anyway?) I watched the fireworks with my Dad.
Pretty cool.... and stuff.
Love ya Dad