The air was hot and humid today, dense upon us as we watched the annual Powhatan County Labor Day parade. I confessed to my friends and family that tears and emotion choked me up every time; there is something so eternally optimistic and hopeful about a small-town parade. “Look!”, it seems to say; “Here is the very best of us, the finest memory of who we used to be and the promise of what is to come.”
It was the Shriner, in his tiny car, whipping around with precision and grace and a smile that might mean this was the best thing he’d done in months.
It was the fireman, leaning down carefully to place a lollipop in the outstretched hand of a toddler; the powerful notion of our civic pride and power and the most vulnerable among us.
It was the high school dance team, synchronized in movement and makeup; for me, this year, the Anti-Miley. Shy smiles and no agenda other than pride and joy, beautiful, fresh-faced girls on their way to adulthood.
The politicians and the Queen of the Fair – both the Senior version, beautiful in a floor-length gown and a full head of gray hair, and the younger, new model, an entire lifetime ahead of her.
The ROTC kids with their rifles, the Army band, the flag, the high school marching band and my own snare drum captain, in his last Labor Day parade…
Today ends a season. The summer is over, and tomorrow we get up early and reclaim the rhythm of public-funded education and a culture ever-changing.
Earlier today, I was explaining the concept of the Columbia Record Club to my youngest. It required a lot of backstory; what is a record? An eight-track? What was it like to only be able to hear music on the radio or a rare tv experience? What was a world with no digital media, no internet?
It’s hard to relate; it sounds like old times, old days, another lifetime. It many respects, it was.
But here’s the thing: Tomorrow, my boys are going back to school. This is something that I did and my parents did before me, a connection point of similar emotions and familiar context.
It’s September, and it’s time to go back to school.
God bless us all, in the beauty of a fresh start and a chance to get it right and learn something new.