Fourth of July in small-town America

Barbeau, MI

I save old, torn, worn-out American flags. Most years, my husband, Philip, and I bring the flags to a friend who resides in the small Michigan village of Grand Marais, where they are burned in a solemn ceremony every Fourth of July.

When the church bell struck the hour, the parade started, music blared, and everyone waved, grownups and children alike. This is a small community, so the parade went around the block three times.

After the parade broke up, the flag burning ceremony began at the war memorial in the park. Many people wore military uniforms, including our friend, who had served in Desert Storm and retired as a colonel. The moving ceremony fit perfectly with the small town and its close community.

We headed back to the boat as two men got on a snowmobile. The passenger carried a large American flag on a pole. They circled the harbor twice.

Evening brought two things: fog and the big fireworks show. As evening progressed, the crowds grew, congregating along our pier. The fireworks began at around 10:30 p.m. I had never seen fireworks in a fog, and the light radiating into the mist looked almost ethereal. The crowds oohed and aahed at each display. The multicolored fireworks silhouetted the moored boats, and the finale brought forth a barrage that ended the show in a blaze of glory.

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