Standing Strong for America

So my husband said to me yesterday that I haven’t posted in a while, and I was like, “what do you mean, I just posted last week?” but the truth is that I just haven’t been all that inspired in the past couple of week or so. I feel like my mind is reeling in confusion, disappointment, concern — on so many fronts. And I’ve tried to put the words down, each time, deleting them. I’m so, so, so frustrated that I feel like I can’t express my opinion on so many things — ethically and morally I cannot stand strong for my faith and all the I believe. So anyways, I’m shelving all that for now, but you will hear from me again.

Today is the 4th of July. My favorite summer holiday. Yesterday, we closed the office early at 3 pm so that everyone could start enjoying the holiday. Tom and I were watching the weather every hour, trying to decide if we should head to the fireworks in New Wilmington, PA, held at Westminster College’s Lake Brittain. We had hoped all week that the weather would cooperate — it’s been raining every day for more than a week — but we decided to take a chance. If it rained, oh well — it would be an adventure, and quite frankly, we could use one of those.

My Dad loved this event and went every year. It was not just fireworks, but included a concert by the River City Brass Band. And Dad loved the River City Brass Band and the patriotic music they played. Dad himself used to play trumpet in high school and college. Mom and Dad would get a bucket of Kentucky Fried Chicken and take a picnic. Sometimes we would join them as well — this was our 4th of July as adults now — we came with our spouses and Debbie brought her kids. We were no longer the little kids with the sparklers jumping around catching fireflies.

July 3rd concert and fireworks with Mom and Tom.

July 3rd concert and fireworks with Mom and Tom.

I was so happy that Mom had come with us. I was looking forward to a relaxing concert enjoying the evening with her and Tom — two of the people I love the most! And, of course, thinking about Dad.

There were families with little kids, older people, blankets and picnics — all that I expected. Everyone was patriotic, wearing red, white and blue. The kids were running around — giggling and playing — and yes I saw a couple of fireflies as it got darker. Just perfect. It was only about 30 minutes after getting all settled that a few drops of rain came. The sky was looking black, but we hoped that it would hold off.

Storm clouds rolled in pretty quickly.

Storm clouds rolled in pretty quickly.

The River City Brass Band started promptly at 7:30 and got about five songs in before the lightning started. We had just heard a trumpet solo from Mark Custer — and I looked at my Mom and said, “Mark Custer!” I grew up a few miles down the road from Mark and Matt Custer — they were the closest “neighbor” kids we had. Mark was a trumpet player in high school, and I had heard he went on to play music as his career. I didn’t realize he ended up with the River City Brass Band. How proud his family must be! Well, another lightning strike and they called the concert. It just wasn’t safe anymore for the musicians — and those of us sitting all over the hillside.

We headed to our vehicles and decided to wait it out — about an hour or so. It never really rained that hard — just a lot of lightning in the distance. But somehow it cleared up by 9 pm, and they put off the fireworks a little early. It was a beautiful show and overall, we had a fun time. I’m glad we went.

Today, we went to the parade in Zelienople, PA at 11 am. That was a real treat and a true expression of patriotism. It gave us the opportunity to stand and cheer for our veterans and service men, as well as all those who serve our communities — the firefighters, EMS and police officers. We had seen a lot of people from St. Gregory’s and some of them were even in the parade. When we were driving home from the fireworks last night, we had come through Zelienople, and I told my Mom we were going to the parade today. She said, “you used to march in the Zelienople parade,” and I couldn’t remember it. I had marched in so many parades over the years — twirling one baton, then two and later a fire baton — and I didn’t really understand what town we were in. Now I think it’s neat that I marched in a town that means so much to me now.

This was the same costume we used for parades — at a show performance.

This was the same costume we used for parades. I don’t have any photos of me or Debbie in a parade — and none with my fire baton. Digital photography has certainly changed that for future generations!

Unfortunately, there are no majorettes anymore, except for Betty. I have to give her applause — she’s in her late 80’s, has survived cancer and still marches in the parade. Not to mention, she’s an incredible twirler! I got thinking about that while I watched the parade. I wonder if you could bring back baton twirling with some of the dance studios and make it popular again. After all, there were several dance teams there. And one group of kids had giant hula hoops — it’s just amazing what kinds of performers there are out there.

I miss the bands in the parade too — the full marching bands from the high schools. There used to be two or three schools that would participate in every parade when I marched. I know that the high school bands are half the size of what they used to be — maybe if we celebrated them — kids would get interested! Most parents are encouraging sports participation, cheering or dance over music. It’s really quite sad to me. Marching bands are incredible to watch — their amazing ability to synchronize is beyond me. And it comes full circle. I think back to Mark Custer performing with the River City Brass Band last night. He marched in many a parade during his tenure with Blackhawk High School’s marching band.

There’s nothing more American than watching a parade on the main street of a small town USA. It represents all that is good in this crazy world — spending time with family and friends and celebrating our freedom. Many paid a great price for the freedom we have — that’s nothing new to any of us. But I don’t think that everyone realizes that we have a greater responsibility to uphold the principles of this country that those men and women fought so hard for. And today, on independence day, as we celebrate our freedom, I pray that we as Americans stand strong for the ethics and principles this country was founded upon. God bless America — today and always.

Let me know your thoughts!