Living American History
Once upon a time, just a few years back, I might very well have “lived” more American history over three days in early July than I had previously done over my entire lifetime.
I drove (and walked) around Bristol delivering one hundred-fifty-three miniature American flags. The flags were personally gifted to many of my ex-students, their families, and sometimes random strangers for three hot summer days on July 1-3.
The mother of an ex-student of mine cried when I brought a flag to her home. Literally … cried. I did, too.
“Mr. T., as you know, my son is serving in the Marines,” she said. “Some people don’t even seem to care. My boss at work even told me last week that he wished my son had just gone on to college, as good a student as he was. Too many people don’t understand why he joined up. I’m not even sure that I understand why. He told me he didn’t want to kill anybody, I know that. He said he just wanted to help the whole world be more free. He said you taught him when he was little that Americans aren’t any better than any people anywhere else in the world - but we have more freedom to do what we want. Holding this little flag right now somehow helps me understand why he joined. I will take a pic of it and send it to him and tell him I am very proud that he followed his dreams.”
I came across an elderly African-American man whom I had not met before, standing in some shade near the Corner Dog House in Bristol. I told him, “Sir, here’s a flag for you. Happy Independence Day!”