Fourth Friends

I found it ironic that I began and ended my Fourth of July celebration making new friends.

In past years, the Fourth was a day for me to hang out with established friends and family. But this year, I found myself wandering amidst new acquaintances – including Berkley Bedell, John Furman, Virginia Smith and 26 high school students attending the Presbyterian Camp.

I expected to miss my old Fourth of July traditions, but I learned that becoming a part of new traditions was even more fun. The reason for this year’s change in perspective was the overwhelming sense of community I found everywhere I went.

Late Thursday morning when I arrived at the home of Virginia Smith, I found six families celebrating a 27-year tradition. They welcomed me with open arms, and I felt as though I’d been a part of the group for years. An hour later, I met up with five brothers holding their 11th annual military extravaganza near Triboji Beach. Again, I quickly became a part of a larger community, all celebrating the joys of freedom. And by the end of the day, I was in the midst of 26 high school students enjoying fireworks and the beach waters of Gull Point. Here, not only did I become a part of a camping community, but of a temporary beach community that stood tall and united during the national anthem.

After making so many new acquaintances and friends this Fourth of July, I decided to start a new tradition of my own. As always, l’ll be spending Thanksgiving, Christmas and Easter, with my established friends and family. But the Fourth will be different – it’ll be the holiday where I branch out to find new communities and new friends – when I celebrate the freedom of our nation with the masses who share this privilege.

So, was it ironic for me to find new communities and friends on the fourth? Maybe not. It was ironic that I both began and ended my day singing “God Bless America.” But that’s an entirely different issue.