From my aunt’s hillside cabin in Silver Gate, Montana I could hear the strums of a guitar in the children’s park below. My dad had already set up our chairs in the lawn so we could enjoy the music of a country band on the Fourth of July. I grabbed my camera and headed down the hill looking forward to continuing a childhood tradition. In previous years, there were fireworks instead of a band, but due to the close proximity to Yellowstone National Park and the dryness, the fireworks were banned.
As I took my seat next to my dad, we listened to the band warm up. Slowly, more and more people showed up with their coolers and blankets setting up to have a good time.
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The band had officially started the show and the townspeople were getting comfortable. I watched a group of five little girls running around enjoying themselves, couples dancing barefoot in the grass, and a group of firefighters sitting atop the monkey bars, enjoying their day off.
My cousin came down to check out what was going on, bringing along with her a small United States flag. An idea occurred to me. It was the Fourth of July and there was no American Flag flying in sight. I told her to find my brother and ask him to bring down the larger flag my aunt had in the cabin. Up the hill she went, looking for my brother. Moments later, I saw the red, white, and blue moving out of the cabin and down the hill. He made his way through the crowd but instead of coming over to me, he scaled a large rock where children were playing. He positioned himself at the very top and sat there waving the flag.
The concert continued as he sat faithfully. I finally made my way up the rock and sat next to him. We had a great time watching the band from our newly found vantage point. After some time, I looked down to see a man trying to get my attention. I was a bit uncertain. We were surrounded by adults and my dad was close by, so I climbed down. He asked me if I knew the young boy with the flag. As I said yes, he took out a coin and handed it to me. The man looked me in the eyes, and with a proud voice told me he was a Vietnam veteran. Pointing up to my brother, he expressed how what he was doing for our country was the most patriotic thing he had seen a young boy do, telling me to make sure the coin gets to him. With that, he walked away, barely giving me time to properly thank him.
I returned to the spot next to my brother, handed him the coin and told him what happened. He looked over his shoulder and waved at the veteran. I couldn’t believe what happened. I left my brother on the rock and went to find my dad. As I did, the guitarist of the band said as a closing to the evening to all stand and turn to the boy with the flag while he played the national anthem. With everyone’s eyes on my brother and the flag, the guitarist began the National Anthem. As the anthem ended, clapping erupted from the crowd as my brother waved the flag back and forth: a touching end to a patriotic night.
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