I watched this string of youth all under eight-years-old, their hands behind their backs and their faces buried in a green and yellow watermelon rind resting on a white table. They only stopped long enough to spit a seed. Each was trying to win the title and the prize in the contest. This was shortly after hearing the sirens blare, seeing the flags wave as people paraded down main street smiling at friends and those they didn’t even know.
These scenes I experienced, I knew were repeated over and over again across the United States as we celebrated the birth of our country on Independence Day.
As I watched in this mountain town – Pollick Pines, California, where my musical tour had taken me that day, I knew I had found an amazing thing – America.
I saw people smiling, children playing, music uplifting the hearts of all within ear shot, and people stopping in the midst of it all to pray for God’s blessing on this nation and for those who strive each day to keep it free through their service.
No Hollywood director except maybe Frank Capra could have created a movie that evoked in me the pride of being an American and having roots that reach back to those who fought for our original freedom in the American Revolution.
As I saw this scene of youth, I said, ‘What artist Norman Rockwell could have done with this image.’
I recently joined a musical tour that made itself all the way across the United States and back sharing the bill with the talented Watkins Family of Toccoa, Ga. Whether you are traveling by bus or SUV pulling a trailer, when you try to shake off more than 6,000 road miles, you know for sure you have to love what your do.
In my more than thirty years of entertaining, I have appeared and performed in hundreds of little towns, county seats and big cities from small crowds to “where in the world did they all come from?” crowds.
With most I tend to find one common thing at the events – good folks.
People who are doing their very best to encourage their community through their efforts of bringing music artists to the region and fans willing to support events and the performers as they travel.
I wish I could say the same was true along the route of every journey, but unfortunately you find a myriad of personalities as you unfold yourself out of your vehicle and stumble as you get your limbs to wake up into to a truck stop or restaurant.
That is much of what touring is, simply driving from one location to another. Stopping every few hundred miles to refuel and stretch your legs. With the advantages offered now in most travel means, you might watch a DVD; listen to music, read, or sleep as you pass the time. That is, if you are not engaging in a sometimes-endless conversation to help keep the driver motivated. My personal preference is sleep, especially if I have traveled the area before.
Our final tour engagement in California, took us to perform at an inner city church Deliverance House of Prayer in Fresno that is working to serve a community with God’s message through the love of His people. Within the walls of this storefront church, as I looked into the eyes of youth smiling and clapping, adults raising their hands in praise, and coming to their feet as the music moved them, the same thoughts came to my mind that I had the day before. I am seeing America, a different scene, but still one that Rockwell would have painted and Capra would have shot. It made my heart sing and swell with the pride of being an American, thankful for all of God’s blessings shared.
You are the one that decides what America looks like in your community. Do you strive to make it better? Do your local efforts measure up to the sacrifices made by others to create and keep the United States of America free? If they don’t, maybe it is time you consider ways that you might step up and paint a scene in your hometown that Norman Rockwell might have painted or Frank Capra might have shot. Remember “It’s A Wonderful Life,” but it is up to you what you do with it.