Saturday, July 4, 2015

How I Carried a Banner & Marched Through Town

Dear John,
 
Happy Independence Day! I doubt that you keep any such observances in Heaven, but here it's important. We're having our usual nationwide block party. And it is good.
 
Of course, this is THE holiday in Topeka, and the whole town is out celebrating. I went with Richard to the pancake breakfast to raise money for the fire department, then I watched the police do a K9 demonstration in east park. It was wonderful, seeing what those dogs can do. I watched a bit of the basketball tournament and talked to some friends. Then I came home for lunch and was sleepy, so I lay down for a bit and woke up three hours later. (I didn't get much sleep last night because the fireworks went on until after midnight and the dog wouldn't just sit on my head; he had to squirm.)
 
I left a few minutes before 4:00 to walk down to the bank and help get our parade float put together. Then we all walked over to Crystal's house to inflate the cake (a big birthday cake for the bank's 100th birthday). Then we trooped over to the NISCO parking lot to get in the parade line. The parade started at 5:45, only 15 minutes late this year, and was so long that it ran for a full hour.
 
We had the bank van, the Billmobile, with a big "100" balloon on top and a decorated trailer behind it that had the cake and Charley dressed up in the Bill Dollar costume, which must have been terribly hot today. Cindy and I walked in front of it and carried the big bank banner, with the rest of the people behind us with candy to throw to the crowd. And there was a crowd! It seemed like half the county was here. A lot of it probably was; we always have lots more people for this than our little 1100-person population.
 
Now I'm tired and sweaty and happy and my feet hurt. I walked miles today. I'm on the couch with the laptop and a frantic dog who just got his pre-fireworks Benadryl, listening to the music from a local country band in the park. It's been a perfect day. Even the weather has been perfect - 80 and mostly sunny. Today demonstrates so much of what I love about this town and this country. Independence Day isn't about military demonstrations and political posturing; it's about bands and parades and hotdogs and picnics. It's a day to celebrate who and what we are. So we get together and eat and play and listen to music and have parades and watch fireworks. We enjoy who and what and where we are; we love our families and communities and nation; we all get together and embrace all of that.
 
We have issues to struggle with and things that divide us; we always have and we always will. But right now the town is singing along to "Rocky Top" and setting off sparklers and eating Nelson's chicken, and what we share far outweighs what we don't. We will survive the current disagreements as we have survived the past ones. After all, we made it through a civil war. We're a family; we can wrangle over things and shout at each other, and that's allowed. We're America. And it is good.
 
So come and watch the fireworks tonight - 10:00, as usual. Stay for the last bit of our national block party. There is much to be thankful for.
 
Adore you,
Joan.

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