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Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Fourth of July 2006

Independence Day, and 'Happy Birthday' America!

Always one of my favorite holidays. More than any other day of the year, it UNITES us, across these United States--in national pride and celebration.

I always remember waking up as a kid to the sound of a 21-gun salute that boomed in the morning across my hometown of Macomb without fail each year. Not coincidentally, we watched fireworks there this year. Always a spectacular display at Hanson Field.

Not far away, in the country near Adair, my mother and her 7 brothers and sisters used to mark Independence Day by seeing how many firecrackers they could set off, preferably close enough to another sibling to cause a good scare. And another generation back from that, my grandfather played fiddle in a family band, and I imagine there was always some town picnic or other simple community pursuit demanding their talents.

In a campaign, July 4th is also a daunting day! Because just about every community in the United States gets festive on the Fourth of July...so there are choices to be made.

A given every year is the huge, happy Amvets Parade in East Moline. I've been in this as far back as I can remember...first as a broadcast journalist, now as a candidate for Congress. 15,000 people attended this year, the news media reported--and I wouldn't be surprised! It's such a privilege to make that multi-mile walk and shake hands, wave, wish the country a Happy Birthday, admire the little ones, pass out candy, get a hug here and there, and enjoy the patriotism even with people who may not enjoy the same politics I do. We were privileged to be joined by musicians John O'Meara and Friends, floating along on a flatbed belting out familiar songs we could all sing and move to! Then too, this parade is an occasion to join with the many people who put on one of our signature yellow T-shirts and walk or drive or run or carry a dog or maneuver a bicycle with us along the route. And for that matter, it's a great opportunity to see and be seen with the other candidates for office whom I greatly admire and with whom we've shared many a parade now! and with the good party people who take an active interest in American politics and who help the rest of us do what we do.

Meanwhile, Hancock County co-coordinators Randy White and Jan Geissler represented the "Zinga for Congress" campaign in Carthage...complete with a full-scale replica of a stagecoach from the American frontier and plenty of signs and candy! Randy built that stagecoach himself...tells me he just got up one morning and thought that's what he'd better do. Jan is a familiar face with the Zinga for Congress campaign by now--a volunteer's volunteer, for sure! Sorry not to have been there personally, Carthage. We'll catch you down the road soon enough.

In Galva, Henry County Party chairman Dave Dobbels and vice-chair Steve Martin had assembled nine people to wear "Zinga" shirts and blow up balloons--red, white and blue in Galva (purple and yellow everywhere else). The kids love balloons--and there are a lot of kids out there in America, of ALL ages! I think they like them even more than candy. It's so fun to see the children as they line both sides of a parade route--their reaction to candy probably a great indicator of their personality in years to come. Some stand shyly by, hardly daring to believe that all that good stuff can come raining in a rainbow puddle at their feet. Others hold their bags wide open, full of energetic faith and optimism. Some come right up and petition--others stand by till you come to their sack, then look inside to be sure the precious cargo made it in, and then up at you with a sweet "thank you." If you're a parent, a salute to you for taking your kids to the parade, remembering the bags, and managing to keep things peaceful and equal!

Rounding off the day, the evening 4th of July parade in Canton. Chuck and I made that one too--you know, you sleep soundly when you've visited both sides of the street in not one but two parades that are long enough to let you know you've been there! New Fulton County party chairman Judy Dudek marshalled her forces and there was a significant presence in that parade too. Last year we stayed for Canton's fireworks--this year, as I told you earlier, we went to Macomb's.

There is a particular joy--and honor-- in being a candidate for elected office as America celebrates the birthday of the oldest continuing system of government in the WORLD. It is to experience our process of government from the inside out.

A picture-perfect day outside to observe ANOTHER happy birthday for the US of A. May God CONTINUE to bless America!