This entry doesn’t have a lot to do with BBQ or cooking, but I wanted to share some thoughts anyway.

My family celebrated the 4th of July today by participating in the Provo Freedom Festival.

The Freedom Festival is a huge event that occurs the week before and including the Fourth of July. They have a Balloon launch where they launch ~50 hot air balloons, a big chuckwagon breakfast, a Baby Pageant, fireworks, booths, rides, and a huge parade. There are over a hundred entries every year. My family always gets up early to and plays hard the whole day…we just got done with the annual fireworks display in front of my house. The kids love the sparklers…but I digress.

The thought that I wanted to share was in regards to the parade.

Usually, my favorite part of the parade is the airplanes. This year, there were four F16 jets and a refueling plane that flew over. I love the sheer power of those planes and I love to see them and feel them screaming through the air just over the parade route.

However, this year, it was the patriotism and attitude of gratefulness. The crowds normally dress in red, white and blue. It was normal to see the flag shirts from Old Navy, and the myriad of other patriotic outfits on almost everyone. It wasn’t the outfits…

Instead, the thing that touched me this year was the reaction of the crowds to the troops that participated in the parade. It was electrifying. As the troops drove by in various military vehicles, the crowd would rise and give them a standing ovation. The service men and women were elated. There was a woman sitting just down from me that would yell to every vehicle – THANK YOU FOR SERVING US. Even the ROTC cadets got the same treatment.

However, there was a specific parade entry that has been burned into my memory from the sheer emotion that I experienced. It was called the Goldstar Mothers. It was a large military truck that contained a group of mothers (both young and old) that had lost children in the service of their country. Many of those mothers were holding pictures of their sons or daughters. As they inched by at typical parade speed, the crowds gave them a standing ovation and cheered and cheered and cheered. Many in the crowd were yelling THANK YOU, THANK YOU. One of the mothers on the truck made eye contact with me and she had tears streaming down her face. I looked around through my tears and I watched men, women, and children waving and cheering, many of them with tears streaming down their faces. It was an emotional moment for me.

I hope that those mothers realize how grateful I am for the sacrifice their families have made for my freedom and the freedom of my family.

Flickr image by "Beverly & Pack"