Star-Spangled Love

The parade was assembling up the street, as little girls in frilly dresses were getting final once-overs from their anxious moms. The master of ceremonies was positioned on top of a hay wagon across the street while injecting strong and persistent puffs of air into a microphone to make sure that it was working. I had closed my business for an hour so that employees and I could sit and enjoy the Fourth of July Parade that would soon be coming our way. People were line up and down both sides of the street and many had brought lawn chairs to enjoy the parade in comfort. There were folks of all ages, including babies in strollers and toddlers mounted on top of their fathers’ shoulders. As the parade progressed up the street the sights and sounds of festivity filled the air. Clowns with bright red noses and multi-colored costumes were throwing candy upon the sidewalks for children to retrieve. Antique cars and tractors paraded by us, and floats of all kind represented everything from girl scout troupes to our local election nominees. Horse-drawn wagons made way for local folks who had added to the event by decorating their bicycles. The sound of the high school band could be heard in the distance, as it’s notorious boom, boom, boom filled the air.
When the West Jefferson High School Band got directly in front of us, everyone came to a halt and the crowd paused in his ceaseless activities. I was sitting on a chair beside one of my employees, Gina. As she was speaking in a moderate voice to someone on her other side I was intently watching a family directly across the street who had caught my attention. The couple was probably in their early thirties and Mom was holding a baby in her arms while Dad was holding the hand of a little blonde-haired boy, whom I guessed to be 3 or 4 years old.  An older gentleman was standing with them, talking and playing with the children periodically, so I assumed this must be Grandpa who came along to enjoy the parade with the family. At that moment the band began to play “ The Star-Spangled Banner.” a hush came over the crowd and almost everyone rose to their feet, many placing their right hand over their heart and several of the men taking off their hats and positioning them on their chests. The little blonde-haired boy looked up at his grandfather ( who had placed his work-worn hat over his heart ) reached up and took off his little red ball cap and followed suit. As he stood there as straight as a statue, not moving and not making a sound, only looking up at his Grandpa occasionally, I listened to the band play our National Anthem as well as I had ever heard it played before. But my attention was caught by the little boy with his hat placed over his tiny heart and I wept. Tears slowly and obliviously ran down my cheek, as they are right now as I type these words, as my heart warmed for my country, for my fellow citizens and friends, for men and women everywhere who gave their lives unselfishly for this country, for those who served and survived, and those who were somewhere at this very moment serving and defending the United States of America. The beautiful sounds of the instruments hitting each and every note with splendid  grandeur, the sight of a little blonde-haired boy who might very well be upholding the honor of our country someday himself, and the wonderful words to the beloved song of our country was very moving to me. I turned my head slightly and wiped away the tears and Gina put her hand on mine. When I looked up into her face a tear was streaming down her face as well and no words were necessary.
I love my country. I have never wanted to be any place else. Although I  have not always been happy with the direction and leadership she has been given,  , the love for her is , and will always be, unconditional.
On this particular day, a small child, a talented band, gratitude mixed with love and respect for The United States of America , has made everything right in the world!
“ Oh say, does that star-spangled banner yet wave, 
   O’er the land of the free….
 And the home of the brave.”
Red, White, and Blue Trifle
1 quart of strawberries
2 pints blueberries
1 large container of Cool Whip
1 Sara Lee pound cake, sliced in ½ inch slices
Beginning with the pound cake, layer the bottom a  glass bowl ( or trifle dish if you have one)
With the pieces of  the pound cake, cutting some of the pieces if necessary to make it fit like a puzzle
Assemble in alternating layers, the strawberries, blueberries, and the Cool Whip.
Repeat with another layer of cake and so forth until you reach the top of the bowl ending with a Cool Whip Top.
Chill for at least 2 hours.
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