Proud to be an American? I am.
The Fourth of July has always been one of my favorite holidays. Not so much because of the fanfare, but for the commonality that’s shared between friends, family and strangers in paying homage to the founding of a wonderful nation — during all that fanfare, of course.
That’s the epiphany one may get when watching fireworks burst in mid-air. For me, though, it took being in a flag — a living flag.
Several years back, I was involved in a church production called “The Living Flag” in my hometown of Savannah, Ga. Each year we’d sing music about God and country while standing in this larger-than-life American flag. It stretched from floor to ceiling and from both ends of the stage. It was lit up like a Christmas tree in red, white and blue.
I loved climbing up in it.
The program also featured appearances by our country’s forefathers — my favorite was Abraham Lincoln. They were actors, giving snippets of our forefathers’ famous speeches, reminding the crowd of the things we often take for granted now — liberty, justice and faith.
There was a part in the program where we got the kids involved. They marched while singing and waving their tiny American flags with Uncle Sam. I would get chills after we sang the “Armed Forces Salute” medley — that’s when a few teenage guys would come on stage dressed in military fatigues with a large flag, re-creating World War II’s historic Iwo Jima scene.
We had crowds come from all over town to see the production. They were people from all walks of life. That’s when I realized how great it is to celebrate Independence Day as a nation, putting aside our differences for at least one day. We could be united in the simple fact that we are Americans.
Speaking of fireworks, I fondly remember my first July 4th in Florida about three years ago. That’s when I experienced my first drive-through fireworks. I had spent most of the day in Georgia visiting friends and family and was driving home on the holiday, sad that I couldn’t stay for the big event along the river. But I got the biggest treat when I reached the Sun Coast — firework shows from Tampa all the way to Bradenton.
My car was the best seat in the house.