In our rural desert town, we don’t always get a fireworks show. In fact this year, we grabbed an offer for a discount price on fireworks if we signed up for Thursday — July 3rd — instead. It’s not the first time we’ve been frugal and clever.
So this year, our celebration began Thursday evening with a stroll in the Park, some tasty food from vendors who were eager to have two opportunities to sell on a busy holiday, children racing with tiny flags in their hands, and a swing band with upbeat horns who knew how to “get the joint jumpin.'”
When the heat and sun gave way to the dusk and a soft summer breeze, we sat ready on our picnic blankets or dragged folding chairs to the lawn, anticipating the barrage of light and sound to come.
As the fireworks sprayed across a night sky, an undercurrent of voices drummed in some kind of song. At first, I heard a high nasal tone from a woman far off. Someone near me said, “Is that someone singing?” Then another deeper voice and then a few more in harmony, and as I listened, the lyrics cleared. And as if the fireworks shot up in prearranged percussion, the many voices grew and gathered more angelic, more spiritual, more home-grown … “My Country ‘Tis of Thee, Sweet Land of Liberty, of thee I sing…” their voices growing and gathering up all the families — no matter their faiths or ethnicities — “Land Where My Fathers’ Died, Land of the Pilgrims’ Pride,” — no matter that they knew the words or not — “From Every Mountainside Let Freedom Ring!”
I cried silently.
It was natural and beautiful. I felt that my little community held the Spirit of every little way station across this huge nation of towering skyscrapers and ribbons of highway. We sang for those who fought for our freedom, strong memories that strummed our heart-strings, as we continued to raise our heads in pure pride and let freedom ring…
From her mamma’s lap, the hesitant, young patriot waved a flag upward to a brilliant starburst of pride.