Parades. Barbeques. Fireworks and fireflies. Apple pie and lemonade. Pool parties and sunburns. Baseball games. Smores. Laughter. Boat rides and beach waves. Hot dogs, hamburgers and ice cold beer. Ladder ball and corn hole and kickball. Watermelon. The national anthem. The American flag billowing on houses and high above buildings. The pledge of allegiance. There is nothing quite like taking a few days in the summer to celebrate our nation and being an American.
This year, however, it wasn’t the fireworks, although they were spectacular. It wasn’t the ice cold beer, although it sure was refreshing. It wasn’t the patriotic kids’ parade down Main Street, although it was adorable.
It was there, at a minor league baseball game where we watched the home team win while the crowd sang along to Take Me Out To The Ballgame and YMCA, when a stranger sitting behind us in the stands reached into his bag of souvenirs and handed my daughter a brand new baseball cap.
“She should have this,” he said, as his wife nodded and smiled in approval.
As she hesitantly put it on her head, it was then that I realized : This is what makes us American.
Kindness. Generosity. Lending a hand. Befriending a stranger. Willing to be an unsung hero whether it costs you your life or a baseball cap.
So while the fireworks and Fourth of July celebrations will be over for this year, the celebration of who we are as Americans can continue.
I didn’t get their names, but each time I look at that cap, I will see their faces and I will be grateful. I can’t pay them back for that heart-warming act of kindness, but I can certainly pay it forward.
Maybe that’s what it’s all about after all.