Thursday, July 07, 2005

Thank You, Young Man

The kids went downtown for the fireworks display and I planned to sit around the house on the evening of the 4th. But Mary whined and nagged and I relented. We drove downtown and it started to rain. I parked in a lot where you have to pay and started trudging through the rain in the darkening dusk. I was unhappy and I scowled all the way across downtown, to the Pearl street bridge, over the bridge to the Gerald Ford Museum's yard between it and the river.

The kids were supposed to be south of the stage and we didn't see them. We walked northward through the crowd and saw no sign of them. We got to the north edge and started back south alongside the stage. The rain had silenced the band and now it was getting dark. No sign of the kids and it was dark enough that we'd be unlikely to pick them out.

I noticed a young man handing out tracts. To encourage him I asked for one. Mary suggested we go back up the ridge to look for the kids and I said, "No," and decided to follow the tract guy. He proceded along the front of the crowd handing out tracts and my eyes happened to spy someone sitting in a lawn-chair cowering beneath an umbrella. It was a friend from my old church. I tapped him on the shoulder and said, "Hi." He was on the edge of a large tarp whereupon the group with whom my kids had gathered. I saw my son, Dan, standing alongside them and we were set. My daughter was in a rain poncho huddled against the rain. I caught up to the tract guy and thanked him for helping me find my family. He probably thought me quite mad.

We stood around for a half-hour in the rain and then the Elvis impersonator started singing again. Dan complained that he tended to say, "thankaverrymuch" overmuch. So, when he got started, i started calling out the count of how many times he uttered the stereotypical Elvis phrase. We got to six before he finished the set.

Then the fireworks began. The fireworks were to the right of the stage and across the river. Looking up while rain was pouring down made watching the fireworks exploding directly overhead difficult. After a few minutes of fireworks, I noticed a young Marine to my right wearing a dress uniform. He looked sharp and neat as he stood there watching the fireworks and enjoying the show.

I can't recall having seen a better fireworks display. I may have seen larger or longer displays, but I was never as close. When the fireworks would lull, I'd glance over and see the Marine. His presence would remind me how much I owed him and his colleagues and why we were all there.

The fireworks built to a crescendo and in the final display, it must have been a dozen mortars went off mixing both low-level and high-level displays. The display was glorious. Glorious. And I was overwhelmed with emotion.

The display ended and I looked over at the Marine. I hesitated and the crowd moved us in different directions, thus I didn't get a chance to thank him. I wish I had. I can only offer my heartfelt thanks to this young man whose name I'll never know and all of his peers in the military.

Thank you for your service to our country. God bless you and I'll be praying for you.

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