Brian Bushweller, State Senator

17th District of Delaware

July, 2017

Parades, Patriotism, Love of Country (and Other Nations’ Gratitude for America)

If you love a parade, Central Kent County is a great place to live.  Throughout the year, we Kent Countians put on our best and march through the streets in celebration of lots of good things.  We have the Peach Festival Parade in Wyoming (coming up next month – Saturday, August 5), homecoming parades for Dover and CR High Schools and Delaware State University, Halloween and Christmas parades in Downtown Dover and the two biggest parades in our communities, the annual Dover Days parade in early May and the July 4 parade this month.

Like many elected officials, I try to participate in as many of these as possible.  For Dover Days, I get dressed up in colonial garb reminiscent of the days when Dover and Kent County played such a key role in the early development of our democratic society.  On July 4, we deck out our car with red, white and blue bunting and lots and lots of American flags.  I don an  American flag shirt and love cheering “Happy birthday, America” to the thousands of people who line State Street.  The July 4 parade is sponsored by American Legion Post 2 and they should be commended for giving so many people the opportunity to show their love of country in such a fun and constructive way.

One of the cherished traditions I love on July 4 is the patriotic music we hear throughout the day.  And that reminds me of one of the most memorable of those musical, patriotic moments I have experienced.  Ironically, it wasn’t on July 4 and it wasn’t even initiated by Americans.

Several years ago, my wife and I attended a concert in Baltimore by a Dutch orchestra leader who specializes in popular, classical music.  His name is Andre Rieu.  This concert occurred around the 60th anniversary of D-Day, the day Allied forces, led by America, successfully landed on the beaches of France, signaling the beginning of the end of the Nazi plague on Europe.

At one point in the concert, Rieu turned to the audience and explained that while he was here in America for this concert, President Bush was actually in the Netherlands to participate in celebrations of that 60th anniversary.  As Rieu put it, “your President is in my country because 60 years ago, you liberated us.”

Rieu then lifted his violin and, as a way of saying thank you to America, began playing a quiet, respectful solo of “America the Beautiful”.  Soon, sections of the orchestra joined in, then more sections until the entire orchestra was fully involved.  Then, a chorus was added to the mix, joining the orchestra in a magnificent statement of gratitude to America.  It was impressive.

This generated wild and energetic applause, to say the least, with the entire audience on their feet cheering and clapping.  Rieu then looked at the audience through one of those jumbo TV screens and asked, “Do you want more?”  Getting an enthusiastic reply, the orchestra launched into a stunning rendition of “Stars and Stripes Forever”, a performance that still rings in my mind.

During this month of our country’s birthday celebration, I hope your love of country is renewed and reinvigorated and if you happen to pick up a few strains of “Stars and Stripes Forever”, that’s all the better.  See you at the parade!