What does it mean to be American?

This year for the Fourth of July Peggy and I went to Provincetown. The day was hot and humid and we were hoping for a breeze off the water up on that spit of land. But I know now I was also looking for a different kind of fresh air.

We did not know we would see a parade that day. We just thought it might be a fun place to celebrate. Provincetown has a knack for celebrations.

When we arrived we discovered we were not alone in choosing this destination. Large crowds filled the streets, and filled the sidewalks. Before long we realized people were anchoring their places on the side of Commercial St. and we asked them if they were expecting a parade. 

The parade came through the center of town around noon and was led by a group of re-enactors from Concord, red-faced in their colonial wool costumes, pipers playing, drums thumping, a young man with Down Syndrome proudly leading it all in a uniform alongside his dad. Next the parade featured most of the town’s first responders with fire trucks and ambulances full of kids throwing candy to the crowds. Teens in a hiking group marched past. A community group came by decked out in t-shirts to advertise their mission to fight racism. 

A  couple of performers in drag on bicycles got the crowd pumped up and cheering. It was not the longest parade but it met my needs for the Fourth of July. It started with our history, included everyone, featured people of different abilities, different races, different gender identities. Best of all, the experience made me proud to be an American, because it represented the America we have become, the America we need to be. It is a slippery business this patriotism. It gets confusing and its easy to imagine that being a patriot is all about molding my country to meet my needs, when patriots have always been those who give of themselves to be sure that we have liberty and justice for all. 

God’s blessing,

Rev. Susan

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