I confess...I am conflict averse enough to overthink every post, especially with quite a range of views among my audience. But, anyway...
After a party on the 3rd, I spent much of the 4th itself at Fourth Fest, a party thrown in State College with food and and a fair atmosphere and one of the country's largest fireworks shows. I went with MM and helped out at the Operation Thank You booth manned by the Air National Guard (and some volunteers and partners) where they took donations for care packages and had people write notes to troops overseas.
Most people looked up a bit as they tried to find what they wanted to say. I get that. I'm still a pacifist and I'm still not fond of our current wars. But I have always supported our troops, recognizing that we do need people willing to sacrifice and take on the battles (even if I disagree with some of them). We do need a defense system (even if I'm not sure we need the current cost level) and that will always mean needing people willing to risk their lives for the cause. The littlest kids drew "pictures" and I suggested their adult companion help them write their name and age. Slightly older ones asked for help from their parents or the booth folks.
But one little girl stole the day. She walked up alone and asked for a card. She didn't have anyone telling her what to write. I don't recall the second line right now, but it started "Dear soljer, Thank you for being brave." She drew a picture too (and some adults paused on the spelling, she was certainly young enough for the effort to count). Yeah, the pacifist nearly cried and a few of the folks in uniform got teary too. There was just something so genuine and real. It wasn't a totally different message but it was her own voice and her words and so sweet. I actually saw Mom lurking and waved her up to share it and commend her daughter.
I didn't read most cards. This girl had just walked and written with an air that drew me. Unlike the guy who I'd have been a bit scared to meet in a dark parking lot (yes, judgment....but honest). He wrote for a while and fiercely. I waited till he was gone and fished it out (they DO later screen them...you can disagree with the politics but no need to send a mean message to someone on the ground). The language made me lament our schools a bit but his got shared for this comment: "If you are male, I hope you come home safe to your family. Same if you are female."
The lone female service member looked ready to hunt him down. Earlier in the day, MM and I had talked about those sentences that get away from you....the ones you start saying and get away from you and you backtrack to cover. The added "same" felt like a backtrack, but WHERE was he planning to go???? I wondered if he was thinking about a wife and kids at home and then got the PC-bug and put "family" and went from there. But I'm not quite satisfied with that story.
I normally am not a fireworks girl but we stayed and had VIP seats for free. The Fest is self-funded so they do charge admission but we got free tickets (Aside: We also got food vouchers but a guy was cooking and invited us all over...when we didn't show, he started bringing LOADED plates...made me smile. I often lament a lot about the state of our general public but enjoyed seeing some generosity of pocket and spirit). I was pretty darn impressed. Clearly, they've stepped up fireworks since I was a youngin' and MM told me it is something like the 3rd largest 4th show in the nation. I also HIGHLY recommend watching fireworks next to two eight year-old boys. The dancing was priceless and my sideshow totally competed with the light show. Line of the show "WOW. I'm gonna stop saying 'Wow' now...[thirty second pause]..WOW."
Hurting today. I avoided bending and twisting but was still moving about a lot for the past two days and the ground is tough to sit on (even tougher just to GET to the ground). I do want to push myself to get my strength sessions in during the next month to fend off lost muscle after, but lifting today isn't going to happen.