Late Sunday night prior to the 4th of July holiday, I went totally out of control. You see, my wife is out of town because of her job and I am fending for myself in false bachelorhood. So what did I do? I wasted my time – not reading or writing – but watching a series of Jean-Claude Van Damme kickboxing movies on a local station until past 3 a.m. I am addicted to Van Damme's leap and 360-degree turn with his spectacular flying kick. Best not to try this at home – it might be perilous. I kick boxed in my dreams until the sun shining through my window told me it was time to get up – which I did – but with a nagging thought at the back of my mind that there was something I needed to do. Suddenly I remembered! I had told the Paeonian Springs assistant postmaster Mr. (Lieutenant Colonel – U.S. Army retired) Shiflett that I would be sure to attend the annual Paeonian Springs 4th of July Parade.
I decided to walk to the event – which was pleasant. My limbs were supple indeed from the night I spent kickboxing. Being new to Paeonian Springs I do not know many of the Paeonians who gathered for this annual event. I hung close to Mr. Shiflett. He explained to me the parade route and I kept looking for the throngs of people who would line the route. I didn't see anyone.
Around where I stood, a group of people had begun to gather. One man and his children showed up - each having sparkly red hair from some type of application that easily washes out. A little girl arrived with her pet goat, which kept nibbling at my pocket as if it were crammed with carrots. There were various dogs and a number of people with funny but very patriotic appearing hats. Finally, I told Mr. Shiflett that I was going to mosey on down the road and take a position where I could watch the parade. He turned to me with a funny look and said, "You might as well join in."
So there I stood in the second rank, flanked by dogs and a pesky goat, marching to music provided by a man who carried a boom box with recorded marching music consisting of the Navy hymn and the Marine Corp's "From the halls of Montezuma to the shores of Tripoli." Some of us mouthed the words silently as we marched. A few folks lined the route in their lawn chairs and waved as we passed by. A couple of them waved tiny flags and stood at attention to our tiny flag carried by a marcher in the first rank. It was grand. I felt as proud as if I were marching down Broadway in New York City.
As soon as the parade had begun, it was over. Our column swung into the back yard of a Paeonian Springs residence for refreshments. The kids played and ate snow cones from the snow cone machine in the backyard. The adults nibbled and talked. It wasn't spoken, there were no speeches, but I left the gathering feeling very thankful to those brave people who proclaimed their independence two hundred and twenty nine years ago. I waved my tiny flag as I walked back home…