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At 7:30 p.m. with the youngest in bed and the second youngest about to retire, I presented the question of fireworks to my husband. “What do you think of me taking Miriam and James?” As with most questions, we returned to it fifteen minutes later, after ample interruptions. My husband considered, saw there were no obstacles, and said, “yeah, why not?” We put shoes on the kids and along with a blanket and two chairs and drove four miles south to the college to watch the Fireworks display. After considering parking at the junior high, or along the vineyard or at the park, I decided “why not?” and drove up to the college, saw ample parking, and made our way. We walked briskly, found a great quantity of grass for sitting. In view of the band and with a clear sky view of the azure stage for fireworks, we made ourselves comfortable.

It was 8:37 p.m.

The mayor came and the officials officiating congratulated themselves for a job well done. A young woman in a white dress briskly sang the National Anthem to which people attempted to applaud the high parts though she raced past them.

Oh, say can you see,
By the dawn’s early light,
What so proudly we hailed,
At the twilight’s last gleaming?
Whose broad stripes and bright stars,
Through the perilous fight,
O’er the ramparts we watched,
Were so gallantly streaming.
And the rocket’s red glare,
The bombs bursting in air,
Gave proof through the night,
That our flag was still there.
Oh say does that star-spangled banner yet wave,
For the land of the free, and the home of the brave.

She sang beautifully.

Can you picture it? In a time when a war might end but soldiers not find out for weeks? Then men fought through the night, going, going, going, unsure of the outcome but moving forward. As long as they could still see the flag, they knew they were not defeated. In an age when we can receive any signal or information through text, email, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, telephone, letter, page, courier, and what else, we forget, there was a time when you just waited and hoped.

We are so used to the incredible speed of communication that waiting for an answer makes us mad.

Last September and October were difficult months for my family. I could no longer consume the toxic waste spewed out by the political candidates and regurgitated by the news media. Like Jimmy Stewart broken at his darkest moment in the “Capra-corn” flick, Mr. Smith Goes to Washington, my cynicism was at its worst. It was too much to care. Living in California, whatever I voted, our state would go Democrat so I voted for who I liked, avoiding the endorsement of personalities I could no longer stomach.

Sitting, waiting for answers. I took a long time before our personal struggles resolved. I know the feeling of waking up and seeing all was okay. Our flag was still there. Then I thanked God for the survival and hold fast to why it was worth fighting, to begin with.

In the end, I love our country. Days like the 4th of July, with the immense feeling of the National Anthem, the verses of “America the Beautiful,” and festive gatherings remind me of the heart of this country. It is remarkable. It has never been perfect. It never will be perfect. Nothing in life can be. In the end, my cynicism cools, and I am just a sap.

Oh say does that star-spangled banner yet wave,

For the land of the free, and the home of the brave.