Oh, say does that star-spangled banner yet wave……
The answer in the Land of the Waxhaws is a resounding “Yes!”, and Tuesday’s display of pageantry down our all-American main street made palpable the love that The Haw has for those time-tested stars and stripes!
Patriotic parishioners lined the streets in droves on the morning of the 4th. Red, white, and blue clad bodies hustled towards the planned parade route on either side of the railroad tracks that dissect Main Street into a North and South distinction. Nary and empty spot along the pavement was to be found by 9:30, and crowds reached four and five deep in many places by the time the Grand Master rolled past the DreamChaser’s Brewery; the starting line.
The envious sun, not to be outdone by the fanfare, beat down on sweaty faces with trying intensity, but it’s temper-tantrum was trumped by the electric atmosphere of anticipation.
The playing of the National Anthem roused small and tall alike to their feet in a moment of collective reflection and respect. Hands, some wrinkled with age and time, some callused with the repetition of hard work, some tiny and sticky with the remains of melted lollipop, and others, pale from spending summer tucked inside of an office under glowing florescent, fell across hearts; and for a few moments, as Francis Key Scott’s song rang out, the blood beating through all of those hearts, young and old alike, was a little redder, the pride living in each of them was a little stronger, and the gratitude carried within was even heavier. Waxhaw breathed a collective sigh of love for America, and the celebration began!
There’s no denying that our great country would not be nearly so successful without its fundamental commitment to education. Fittingly, the parade was front loaded with a salute to some of our outstanding local educators, as well as stand-out students from the Union County School System.
Sheriff Eddie Cathey, a dedicated public servant, and Congressman Robert Pittenger, both holding positions that serve the government and the people, were along shortly behind, waving at the cheering onlookers.
Parkwood High School’s Marching Band wowed with their perfectly in-step performance, and the all-American Boy Scouts followed closely behind, passing out candy eager-eyed children.
Tiny Beauty Queens, stilted Uncle Sams who seemed to touch the sky, and larger-than-life shopping carts smothered between floats of singing choirs and firetrucks dazzled all who came to see. Just as the sun was reaching it’s zenith, and it seemed that it’s rays would become unbearable, a majestic procession of horses, clad with decked out riders, and haunches glittering with painted-on stars and stripes, proudly pronounced the end of the 40 minute long spectacle.
Satisfied, the masses started to shrink into the shade and back down the side streets from whence they had came. Children clutched handfuls of candies, and waved miniature flags from strollers. As they disappeared, moving towards the BBQ’s and fireworks that would occupy the rest of their day, they took with them the true meaning of “for the land of the free, and the home of the brave”.