Saturday, July 4, 2015

The Napkin

The Napkin
Carol Condon

The 4th of July parade was a regular event in our home growing up.  The lawn chairs were loaded in the trunk along with a blanket for the kids. The candy bags were in our pockets and fresh batteries for the camera were thrown in the bulky camera bag. We loaded up early so we could get as close to the curb as possible. The “be fair about how much candy you grab” talk was given to all of us kids. The beauty queens were perched on top of the cars, the bands were lined up and tuned up, the clowns were already producing laughter, and the horses were prancing to get the parade going! As the applause made it down to our blanket we knew the parade had begun!

My dad must have had an extra sense about him. Before the boots could be heard marching in unison or the flag peeking over the hill, my dad was already standing with his hand over his heart. We were all just seconds behind him. I remember one year my dad leaned over and said, “Carol, don’t ever take the flag for granted and stay seated. Make sure you stand every time.” As I saw this giant of a man’s eyes gather tears, mine did too. Sadly, all those years ago we would glance around and see many Americans still seated counting up their candy stash as the flag carried by our veterans passed by.

Years passed and the patriotism in our family stood firm. Although my siblings and I had married and scattered across the United States, we treasured every moment we were able to come home and visit with each other and our sweet parents. However, the dreaded time had come when my Dad had fallen ill. One thing after another and his health seemed to deteriorate right before our eyes. Little did I realize that on July 4, 2008, I would have my final Independence Day with my dad.

My sister, Pam, became and still reigns as the family hostess. She decorates beautifully for every season and cooks amazing! We gathered together for the July 4th picnic. Dad was seated in a recliner and mom brought him his meal. The volume of our family can be quite intense but my mom was tuned to dads quiet, “Honey?” As she walked over, his chin quivered as he held up his flag napkin that went perfectly with the day. He politely asked, “Can you please get me something to wipe my mouth with? I have tried but I just cannot use this.” Tears began to flow from all of us as we took a moment to look at our hero, our WWII Purple Heart veteran, as he sat with tears dripping from his eyes at the thought of wiping his mouth with the flag of the United States of America.

Let us never forget how blessed we are to be Americans in this great land I love.

2 Chronicles 7:14King James Version (KJV)
14 If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land.

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