Back in the late 1960’s, my parents started a tradition of gathering our neighbors on the morning of July 4th to raise the flag, say The Pledge of Allegiance and sing The Star Spangled Banner. Some years my brother Tom played the trumpet to accompany our singing. Usually the grandchildren helped my dad raise the flag. Afterwards there was coffee and food for all. A time to get together to share stories and show patriotism.
When Al and I moved to Washington State I kept saying “We should start this tradition here.” But we didn’t.
Until we moved to Whidbey Island. In 2005, to celebrate our first year in our home, we invited a few neighbors and friends to continue as my parents had. That first year we had my two brothers, one sister-in-law, Al’s son Chris and his children Dexter, Victor and Zoe. At different times over the past eight years various family have visited to share the tradition.
Each year as I begin the introduction and history of our celebration I feel deep in my heart the presence of my parents and know that the values I hold today are because the character each of them lived each day of their lives. I feel I honor them on this day, along with all who have served our country. And the rest of us who work everyday to better our communities.
This year Al and I dedicated the Flag Raising to Jarrod Lallier, the son of our friends Kim and Gary. He was killed on June 18 in Afghanistan. He would have turned 21 on July 3rd. I feel that our dedication of this event to Jarrod made the event more meaningful. I’m sure the 44 people standing around our flag pole felt the same.