By Keith Whitson
I arrived to the site just in time. I could hear the engines revving up. Could it be they were checking their motors out before the race or were they just trying to put a fear in the other racers who were also participating in the big event?
Rain had begun but I wasn’t going to let that hinder me and neither did the crowd in attendance. I got out my umbrella and proceeded. I worked my away around, following the roar of engines to locate the track. It was obvious the driver in the purple entry was having some difficulty. His pit crew was in a frantic motion to get him back up and running to make the time trials.
All of a sudden, the first racer peeled out and roared down the track, giving it his best effort. The course was wet and it was hard for his tires to get the traction he was accustomed to.
Each racer took his turn, even the purple machine gave a weak and sputtering effort down the track. The winner of the Flag Pond lawnmower race was determined as the crowd eagerly awaited.
Saturday was the start of many Fourth of July celebrations held in Unicoi County. While Flag Pond ended up with some rainy weather, it did not dampen the spirits of those in attendance. No matter what the occasion, Flag Pond brings a down home, friendly atmosphere with a welcoming serving of good food, good music, fun and fellowship.
While many were watching from the steps of the old school house, or tents and covers set up to stay dry, youngsters were not bothered at all by the rain and mud created. The playground was especially popular with a slide and tire swing. I saw one little boy pushing his toy truck through some mud that would have given regular vehicles a challenge.
Amanda Haynes sat under an umbrella near the slide and watched the fun until she decided to give it a try. She climbed to the top, positioned herself and quickly slid down. There was one problem – she didn’t stop at the bottom of the slide. Her body shot beyond the base of the slide and plopped her down in a mud puddle. I must admit, I was considering going next until I saw her outcome. She laughed it off in good fun. Everyone made the best of what the day brought and the freedom to just gather out.
Over the last few days I have thought much on the many military men and women who put themselves on the line and in harm’s way to bring us the freedom we enjoyed this Fourth and everyday. The price for freedom has not been cheap. Many lives have been sacrificed over the years to make this nation great and respected.
A few years ago, a friend from church, Charlotte Howze handed me a clipping she had saved. It was a Dear Abby item. I have held onto it over the years and refer back to it now.
The clipping had to do with ringing of the bells that was started by President John F. Kennedy. He proclaimed the ringing of the bells nation-wide on Independence Day, July 4, 1963, with the words, “Let’s ring freedom bells! Let every nation know, whether it wishes us well or ill, we shall pay any price, bear any burden, meet any hardship, support any friend, oppose any foe, to assure the survival and success of liberty,” President Kennedy declared.
Dear Abby’s attempt was to get Americans to reinforce this declaration by ringing bells at 2 p.m. on the Fourth. The effort is to help bind us together with U.S. history to honor our anniversary of independence.
The July holiday commemorates the adoption of the Declaration of Independence on July 4, 1776. Those brave 56 men who signed the document pledged their lives, their fortunes and their sacred honor. They put everything on the line, even facing death by hanging for treason. Those courageous men saw the need to declare independence from Great Britain.
It is difficult for us to realize what it would mean to live without the freedoms we are so accustomed to. We take much for granted and are used to doing pretty much whatever we want, whenever we want. All of this we owe to our freedom of being an American. We are so blessed. Let freedom continue to ring!