My husband and I feel incredibly blessed that this Independence Day weekend we are visiting a new piece of our great country. We are spending the weekend in Columbus, Ohio for the wedding of good friends. For both of us, it is our first time in Ohio and we are having a great time. I feel grateful that this gave us the opportunity to see more of the midwest before we move on to a new region of the United States.
Columbus, Ohio has an incredible firework show every year called Red, White, and Boom. We planned to drive here on Friday so we could make the firework show Friday evening, and we were not disappointed. We were nervous about finding parking and a getting a good spot for the fireworks since we were in a new city with which we were unfamiliar, but somehow everything worked out perfectly. We found the perfect parking spot in a parking garage without meaning to (in fact, we drove down a street that was closed off to all traffic except people parking in the parking garage, so we were forced to park in the perfect place). We found a spot on the grass to put down our blankets and without knowing from where the fireworks were being shot off, it was the perfect view. And it was the greatest way to see the downtown of the city, when it was bustling with activity. We were impressed by how clean and beautiful the city was. This is my first year celebrating the Fourth of July in the midwest and I definitely noticed the strong patriotic spirit! It makes me wish we had more time to live in the midwest to get to know the people and culture.
We had a great experience today at the tiny Catholic church down the road from our hotel. I don't know if it is just how Ohioans are or if it was due to the small, intimate nature of the church, but everyone was so friendly. The gentlemen who welcomed people to Mass just before it started asked if there was anyone new that would like to introduce themselves, and he was staring right at us, but we were too shy to say anything. People came out of their way to shake our hands and welcome us during the sign of peace. It was so wonderful! I've never been to a church that welcome and warm before. I've been told to expect friendliness and warmth from our new church in North Carolina, and now I have high expectations knowing what a welcome should really look like! I've heard many people criticize the Catholic Church for not being very welcome to new members, and this was a problem my own family had when we moved to Colorado many years ago, but now I'm more inclined to think that's a regional thing and not problem at the Church at all. There are so many things we could learn from that little church and what it means to be welcoming and accepting.
The aspiring social studies teacher in me won't allow me to close without mentioning Independence Day. Looking back at the history of the United States, we tend to focus on the large events and the famous historical figures that formed this country, fought for its independence, and guided its development. However, we can celebrate Independence Day and the continued greatness of this county because of the actions and sacrifices of the common men, women and children who are rarely mentioned in history book, and never by name. As we celebrate our past, we must also look to the future and decide what role we want to take in charting its course. We must remember the greatness of America, not just on Independence Day, but every day and in the daily actions we take. We help to make this country better when we do small acts of service for others, when we exercise our civic rights, and when we protect the rights of others.