Garrison: Reflections on Independence Day
So the venue wasn’t exactly the big city, and the parade was micro by comparison. For decades now the good folks on our little lake in northeastern Minnesota has been home to a sort of combination regatta and confab between people whose homes are as far apart as this continent can get. For only a few weeks a year they come from Maryland, St. Louis, Oklahoma City, Phoenix, Montana and points west yet, (we only drive 14 hours to get here from Indy) to drink in a North Woods experience available no place else on earth, for all we know. It gets cold, it rains, even on rare occasions snows, blows, always letting us know who is really in charge.
And for all our disparate backgrounds, politics and ethnicities, we find ourselves lined up on our pontoon boats, canoes, fishing rigs, and the like, all gaily decorated in red, white and blue and facing the wind and whatever else mother Nature may feed us to celebrate our nation’s founding. The parade lasts maybe half an hour, then up toward the other end of the lake we all link up, tie off and float like some log jam in the making, and begin to share our own national party. Everything from pickled herring to Fritos and chips, homemade biscuits, deviled eggs, and Lord knows what else, gets passed between boats as the revelers climb from one Pontoon to the next, sharing the bounty of the day. But with folks having to get back to “civilization” with the 4th on Tuesday, we had to have our parade on the 2nd—just to help you all get in the mood!
Last year the big gig was visited by a pair of bald eagles who blessed the event by taking perches about 100 feet off the ground in the tops of two majestic pine trees, where they watched over us till the boats finally separated and all headed for their own cabins. That was something that was lost on no one in attendance!
So I sit at the cabin today, on the real 4th, and the joy and pomp of a bunch of folks acting out a 4th of July parade in a place that isn’t even on most maps is still resonating in my head. And I wonder what it is that binds these people together in a place so remote and unlikely for a party; but I don’t wonder for long. On those boats are military vets from 4 wars, families with military age kids, elderly who now come alone, as spouses are already gone. But what is shared without fanfare or gas bag speeches is the deepest of love for a country that has managed to turn the miseries of human history around all over the world, and a dream that, for 4 centuries has been coming true for more and more folks who continue to believe in it and work tirelessly toward the reality of their dreams.
Nothing comes close to our “city on the hill”, this grand experiment in liberty that has never even been attempted before. So here’s to you all, as you say a prayer of thanksgiving and add in an intercession for all those who yet aspire to what we continue to sacrifice for, to dream and to spread to our brothers and sisters everywhere. Happy Birthday, USA, thank you God for all this bounty, and may He continue to bless these United States of America.