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Fries a fine example of patriotism

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As I sit here on Main Street in Fries, I can’t help but feel patriotic pride. This is truly small town USA, the kind of a town we read about in National Geographic that observes Independence Day with old-fashioned patriotic spirit.

I am sitting in the parking lot of Fries Baptist Church, across the street from the Fries Middle School, the home of the Wildcats. There is a PA system playing patriotic songs. I can observe people that already line the street a half-hour prior to the parade.

I can now see one mother with a handful of small flags giving them out to small children on my side of the street. They are already waving them as if they have an inborn gene that tells them to act patriotic.

Children and adults have on apparel displaying the national colors of red, white and blue.

Here come the Galax Shrine Hillbillies in their old vehicles rushing to get to the start of the parade. The men dressed in old tattered clothing wave at the children, who jump up and down in glee.

One child has a headpiece of feathers in red, white and blue. An older lady has on a red hat with small American flags stuck in the brim.

Everyone seems to know everyone. What a euphoric feeling to witness this. Do I feel like a misplaced stranger because I am not from here? Of course not — I am a fellow American that shares their national pride.

I can hear the siren that announces the parade is approaching. I count the people I can see within a block radius — more than 200.

The smaller crowd members chant “Its coming, it’s coming.”

Cameras are aimed for the first vehicle in the parade, which carries Police Chief Bobby Jones, the grand marshal.

Next comes the Vietnam Veterans carrying the national flag and the flags representing each military branch. All stand up and applaud as they pass.

Middle school girls dressed in red and white, the colors of the Wildcats, carry a banner with the words “Help Save Our Pool,” and many girls carry buckets to solicit money for repairing the Fries pool.

They solicit donations from the spectators. I have read that it is going to take a lot of money to get the pool in tip-top shape, and I hope they succeed in attaining their goal.

Every parade needs a band and Galax High School provides it.

The fire and rescue trucks from Ivanhoe, Grayson EMS, Independence, Galax, Fries and Elk Creek blast their sirens and make a sound like a calliope.

A favorite with the children is Smokey the Bear riding on the front of a fire engine from Ivanhoe. They wave and jump as Smokey waves back.

A parade would not be complete without floats, among them the Red Hat Society. Next come motorcycles, four wheelers, golf carts, scooters, tractors, motor bikes, antique automobiles and horses.

I could not get over how all parade entrants displayed the red, white and blue. I am truly glad to say “I am an American.” I am privileged to enjoy the freedoms our soldiers have fought for and given their time and lives for.

Along with the end of the parade came the wait of getting out of town due to parade traffic. That is simply what the fourth of July has always produced.

No one minds waiting. It was worth it.

I hope you were able to attend a parade of choice and truly enjoy your Independence day.