For as long as I can remember the Town of Red River put on a 4th of July parade. Usually, the week before the 4th, businesses would be working on some sort of float entry for the parade. Some years there was more competition than other years. Mostly, the floats were advertisement for the businesses. Some years we went all out for a float that would knock your socks off. The Red River Riding Club would put on their white shirts and gather up their horses. Any other day of the summer, we could walk out in the pasture and catch our horses easily, but walk out in a white shirt, and the horses knew it was parade time. Then they would scamper around the pasture just out of arms reach and act wild. Eventually, when we were all sweaty and our hair stringing around our faces, and we were going to be late to the parade, they would let us catch them. With people everywhere, loose balloons floating down the street, obnoxious Shriners driving crazily, we were really putting our lives at risk by riding a horse in the middle of a parade. Not only did we do it, we put our kids on horses too! The town was always full of tourists for the 4th plus all the folks who came from nearby towns. The town was just packed. After the parade there would be games and contests - like the sack race, pie eating competition, watermelon seed spitting contest, tug-o-war across the river – just the usual 4th fun. And it was fun for those of us growing up in the mountains – great memories!
None of the 4th of July events that took place were really done in the name of patriotism. The events were a draw for tourists – making money was the name of the game. Just because you give lots of presents at Christmas doesn’t make you a Christian. I would learn patriotism from my father who took me down to see the veteran’s memorials on Veteran’s Day and taught me about the sacrifices made for my freedom. I learned patriotism from my uncle who did three tours in Vietnam and took me with him to his reunions to meet real heroes. I learned patriotism from my history teachers who made me understand what an amazing country we have and how great men fought to make it so. I feel sorry for the Natalie Maines and Craig Barkers of this world that their hate for Republicans and George Bush would so color their world that they could not see all of the good and all of the sacrifice made for them to be where they are today.
Tomorrow I will celebrate and remember my Revolutionary War ancestors who fought for our freedom, and I will remember other war heroes who have kept us free through the generations. Mostly, I will think of the young men and women right now who are laying their lives on the line for their country. And that is exactly what they do when they choose the military. They go, and they serve. Amazing!