"What flag is your favorite?" asked the neighbor boy as we sat on a bench at the Freedom Veteran’s Memorial in Worthington Saturday night waiting for the fireworks to begin.
I pointed to the American flag that stood proudly in the middle, the lights shining up on it as the night sky grew dark.
The American flag, I said, represents freedom. That’s what Independence Day – the Fourth of July – is all about.
"Which one is your favorite?" I asked him.
"That one," he said, pointing to the same American flag.
Patrick had seen fireworks before … several times.
I had invited his mom to ride along … they don’t have a car and I didn’t want to go by myself to watch the fireworks.
Patrick’s mom declined the offer. The sound of fireworks, she said, sounds too much like the fighting they escaped as refugees from Liberia.
"It makes my heart pound," she said, putting her hand to her chest and grinning.
Isn’t it sad, I thought, that as so many of us correlate the booms and cracks on the Fourth of July with beautiful, colorful bursts, it is a reminder to others of wars and gun battles.
As Patrick and I watched some backyard fireworks before the big show, he asked, "What’s Independence Day?"
"It’s a day to celebrate freedom," I replied. For me, it’s a day to honor all of the men and women who have so valiantly served our United States of America.
For Patrick’s family, Independence Day may have an entirely different meaning. For them, they now have the freedom to walk out their front door, go to the park and do so many things that they were afraid to do in their native land.