The big parade on the fourth of July always included children. There were those who watched on the lawn chair laden sidewalks, or on the broad shoulders of someone taller. There were those who spent time decorated their bikes, tricycles, wagons and doll buggies Crepe paper streamers would be meticulously woven through the spokes of wheels. Some of the doll carriages had crepe paper flowers of red, white and blue. Each mini-float carried its own signature. If rain occurred, it bled through the flimsy paper onto whatever it was attached to. Many times children arrived home with red, white and blue hands or backsides.
There were the “real” floats which carried lovely ladies, wearing flowing gowns and crowned with tiaras. Their gloved hands waved at the crowds. Marching bands from all the area high schools strode the streets with sweat rolling down their cheeks. Even in the heat of the day, these valiantly uniformed stalwarts pounded on drums and blew hot air into their brass instruments. Months of practice would turn even the most amateur group into a spectacle to behold.
When I was a kid, parades weren’t about having candy thrown to waiting children’s hands. It had everything to do with the pageantry – the patriotism – the celebration of freedom. Somehow those things have since turned into soap boxes for various other causes.
The fire truck signaled the end of the parade. Sirens blared and men in uniform rode atop the vehicle. Flags were everywhere. They dotted the sidelines as those in the audience waved them vigorously. Almost every house in every neighborhood had a flag somewhere on the property. Store fronts and other places of business were proud to display the red, white and blue. Today, respect for this symbol has been questioned and even ignored by some.
We live in a small town – actually one of the first cities established in Minnesota. The homes close to Main Street continue to display flags. Tonight there will be a parade in an adjoining town. There continues to be a spark of patriotism left in these little communities. I pray that the spark be reignited so that love of country doesn’t fade into oblivion.
As we enjoy the warmth of summer, let’s consider how important our freedom is and how it was bought. Thank God for our country and may He continue to bless it.