Cascading showers of sparkling lights, explosions against a vast blanket of blue,
the big voice in the sky:
F I R E W O R K S
We, all of us, together. Widespread and stretched out, from sea to shining sea.
In awe and wonder. Sheer bliss. Joy.
F R E E D O M.
It was the first 4th of July to make me cry.
Sitting in the ballpark, Charlotte, the city that stole my heart. Singing out America’s anthems. Hair all disheveled, I took my baseball cap off, my eyes fixed on our flag waving in the hands of those armed in uniform.
This is my first year singing that anthem with someone dear to my heart shipping off to serve for this country. My youngest brother, Navy-sealed. Hand across my chest. Tears streaming down.
I get it, now.
I get it.
Because, the sacrifice is just as real as the freedom, if not even more. And now the lives, from 1776 and on until now, they mean something more than all of these shimmering lights.
I am heartfelt and deep in celebration, as never before.
Overwhelmed by my new reason to give thanks, and by the realization of old ones once overlooked.
The love of my life, clutching my hands, as we weave in and through pockets people, sneaking away from the crowd at the ballpark, staring up at the vast blanket of blue, tripping over reflections of fireworks in the sky-scraping buildings.
And that proverbial B O O M.
That captivating C R A C K L E.
That P O P, P O P, P O P of the Red, White, and Blue.
The big voice in the sky, like some long-winded speech.
Commanding attention of the crowd.
You have won us, voice. You have won me.
I am proud to be an American.
Though barely unrecognizable, like a friend, from long, long ago.
Still, so familiar, and nevertheless known.
America, you are to us.
And we do celebrate your history.
We do celebrate our freedom.
And we do celebrate our future.
G O D B L E S S A M E R I C A