A Sea of Patriotism
Idaho Falls, Idaho is a small community nestled in the southeastern corner of the state. Small is a relative term; with a population of 50,730 it is the second largest city in the state yet it still feels like small town America. To most people this little town is but a dot on a road atlas or perhaps a passing sight on a GPS screen. To me; it is “my home town”. I was born here and more importantly I met the woman I’ll spend time and all eternity loving. I’m not here to write my life history, instead I wanted to bring awareness to an event that is staged in this area each year.
A few years ago my family and I found ourselves visiting relatives in Idaho Falls during Independence Day. I fondly remember the activities of my youth with pioneer breakfasts, a parade that seemed larger than life, minor league baseball, and of course the fireworks. I was eager to share these memories with my children (they love when I reminisce about how difficult my childhood was and how I had to navigate snow drifts and fight grizzly bears when my father would not let me drive the covered wagon to school.
Like many smaller towns located in the heartland of America change comes slowly. I found that many of the traditional activities I had experienced in my youth were still alive and well some 30 years later. Not everything though was as I remembered. The parade seemed smaller and floats were not nearly as numerous. The pancakes at the pioneer breakfast didn’t have the same taste as I remembered and yet the crowds seemed much larger as an adult than they were when I was a kid. I have to admit, my childhood recollections took a beating that day as I realized that things are never as magical as you remember.
This disenchantment though was very short lived. As I drove my family back to my parents house I came across an amazing display of patriotism; the Title of Liberty Flag Display. Each year on the weekend before Independence Day the Title of Liberty organization organizes a flag march from the city center to a display field located on the western edge of town. Volunteers carry 1,776 flags and present them on a field where they remain through the middle of July. The sight of seeing American citizens young and old carry their country’s flag proudly is something everyone should experience at least once in their lives.
We were fortunate enough to be there for the inaugural flag march. It made an indelible mark on my family and was one of the highlights of our vacation. Since that time we have been fortunate enough to be in the area twice when the flags are being displayed.
This year we again made the trek from Arizona to Idaho arriving in Idaho Falls a couple of days before the Title of Liberty flag parade. We went and watched as these patriots carried the flags and we stood and cheered each one as they walked by. It was a sobering experience as each flag was placed around the field encompassing a large flag display in the center. Chairs were set up and a program was given telling the story of the flag and its importance. Additional programs are scheduled on Mondays and Fridays during the display covering such things as patriotism, the Pledge of Allegiance and other aspects of our country’s heritage.
During our stay I awoke early unable to sleep. As the sun began to rise I took a short drive to the flag display. I went there for a quiet place to contemplate but the beauty of this display was awe inspiring. I grabbed my camera and began shooting pictures hoping to capture the experience and the feeling I felt standing there among the flags. While the temperatures were in the low 40’s I was warmed by the fact that soldiers had fought for my right to be there that day and take in the freedoms I often times take for granted.
The experience I had was one I wanted to share with my family. A few days later I took my wife Trina to the display this time just before dark and she too felt overwhelmed by the emotions. We stood there shooting cameras until the final rays of sunlight dropped below the horizon. I’ve created a photo album of our experiences. I hope one of these images will touch you and help to remind you of how special it is to be part of this country. Perhaps you will take time to recognize the sacrifices that were made on our behalf and say thank you to those men and women who protect us every day.
As we were leaving that night we had the opportunity to meet the gentleman that was responsible for putting on this display. He was very passionate about these flags and it was fascinating to hear his story. Trina and I talked with him until it was quite dark. He gave us a copy of the proclamation he received from the mayor of Idaho Falls commending him for the display and expressing what it meant to the city and the citizens. We walked away with a new appreciation for what it took to make this display and a gratitude to be there to see it. Information on the Title of Liberty organization can be found on their web site.
So the next time you’re driving down the freeway worrying about whether you are making “good time” stop to think about the small towns such as Idaho Falls Idaho and perhaps make a stop. You never know when that short detour might result in a once in a lifetime experience that you and your family will cherish for their entire life.