I thought of Patriot’s Day last 4th of July while I watched my first Charlesboro 4th of July Parade. The parade route is nothing but a country road in the Charlesboro community about 7 miles from where I live. But this was the parade’s 33rd year.
There has to be something other than just wanting to be in a parade that has kept this home-grown event going for 33 years. There are no bands. Politicians aren’t supposed to hang their banners. Anyone with a vehicle can participate, the only requirement is that the flag or the colors red, white and blue are prominently displayed. The same gentleman dressed as Uncle Sam for many of those years, now a younger relative makes an appearance.
And people from all over come to watch! They back their cars and pick-ups onto the shoulder, under the shade trees and set up their lawn chairs-either on the ground or in the truck beds. One vendor, Maw and Paw’s Boiled Peanuts sells peanuts, popcorn and cherry lemonade. The proceeds go to a Veterans’ organization.
I watched like a native – sitting in my lawn chair, eating my first-ever bag of boiled peanuts. 🙂 People treated me like I was a member of the community, teased me about those peanuts, and were happy I’d decided to join them. They shouted hellos and traded news with those in the parade. They made sure the little ones were paying attention. Then they gathered at the cemetery to place flags and honor their dead.
And my first thought was, this is patriotism at its most basic element – the love and respect for the flag and what it represents, the sense of community and pride in it, families instilling in their children those loves.
Today we honor and remember those who died eleven years ago. We honor and remember those who have fought, and continue to fight, as a consequence of that tragedy. As I write this, ‘tragedy’ seems a weak word to describe that day.
When I attend the official local parades, the ones down Main Street complete with bands and politicians, I’m moved to tears when I see the number of high school students in the Jr. ROTC units. I have to believe that some of that service begins with watching a parade from the back of a pick-up, waving their colors.