Welcome to my digital writing journal, or mydigitalclutter. What started as a family blog almost two years ago has morphed into my writing therapy. This is where I do a lot of free writing, mostly about my life with my family and the things that catch my interest. While nowhere even close to perfect, in each post I like to see how my writing is changing with time and practice. Most posts are left unedited for this reason, so if you don't mind, take the journey with me.
Thursday, July 8, 2010
While serving a mission for my church back in the mid ‘90s, I spent a time in an area where a number of foreign embassies had offices. During one of the hot humid days of summer (probably sometime in February or early March), while riding one of the modes of public transportation, we skirted the edge of the grounds of the U.S Embassy. Peeking through the trees I was able to catch a glimpse of Old Glory, waving in the slight breeze. Without a moment’s hesitation, tears welled up in my eyes and I was filled with a burning of patriotic pride. Suddenly, it was the 4th of July for me and my companion. Home was just a few steps away before the bus turned the corner and continued on through the streets of Uruguay. Never before in my life had the flag incited such a feeling of warmth and desire. It took me spending time on what I considered foreign soil to appreciate the symbolism of our flag. I still love and adore my time in Uruguay, and will consider it my second home for the rest of my life, but there is something that changed inside me that day, where I felt as though I was far from home, but I was proud to be an American.
The past few years we have celebrated the 4th with a cannon firing and time with family and friends. A parade of children waving flags, a prayer, and much food is to be enjoyed. It has become a favorite holiday for many, me included. The laughter, the games, and the sparklers to be handed out at dusk have become as traditional as the holiday itself.
Growing up, I did enjoy the fiery festivities that came about with each 4th of July. While I was taught from an early age to respect the flag, honor and support those who fought for our freedom, it never touched as close to home as it did last year. This month marks the anniversary of a fallen soldier in our family. I saw sheer, raw emotion last year as I watched men, surrounding the hearse, standing watch, each with a flag, protecting the fallen soldier while those inside the building paid their respects. I was acutely aware of the sacrifice given, and the respect of those who stood, lined along our route to the cemetery, holding flags, heads bowed in deference to the one who was gone. I will never again here the song Taps played when I will not think of my freedom and its great cost.
This year, our observance was reverent, and we spent the day at church, worshipping, exercising the right to worship the God we chose, in the place we chose, and how we intended. We avoided the flashy displays of fireworks, and brass bands. It was a most spiritual time of reflection and solitude. I am humbled to live where I can worship, celebrate, and honor those I wish. Oh, we will still have the flashy display of patriotism later in the month as we visit with family and friends on the holiday our state has set aside to remember those who founded it. The cannon will still be fired by Grandpa, who will deliver a discourse on the history of those who have served and lost lives, and flags will be waved by little ones, eager to participate. We will gorge ourselves on beef brisket and at dusk, the sparklers will be handed out.
As the years pass, I’m sure we will be lulled back into the festive nature of our Independence Day observances. For now, I’m glad to have the quiet time to really reflect on my freedom and the sacrifice paid by so many.