Sometime Monday between the first flag unfurling at dawn’s early light on Main Street and the last flickering ember floating back down to earth in the darkened skies over Manteca’s Big League Dreams sports complex you may discover the truth about America.
It’s not hard to find.
You’ll see it in the fresh, eager and wholesome faces of youth joining those who have served America in the military that are part of a small army of volunteers as they place part of the 2,400 flags along Manteca streets.
You’ll hear it in the neighborly banter of die-hard volunteers such as Nancy Lowen, Arvin Reed, Monica, Mendoza, and Morris Lacey — as well as other Sunrise Kiwanis members — as they line up entrants for Monday’s 10 a.m. parade.
The parade will head down North Main Street and then turn right on Center Street and end at Library Park.
They’re the same who help make the Pumpkin Fair a success and distribute more than $50,000 annually to help non-profits that serve youth and those in need.
You’ll see it in the proud stance of veterans in VFW and Legion dress uniforms complete with white gloves as they proudly march down Main Street carrying the flag of our country.
You’ll see it in the faces of this year’s grand marshals — the Combat Vet’ Motorcycle Association Chapter 33-2. They are a group of veterans that were in actual combat overseas. They’ve continued their service by raising funds for families in need.
If past years are any indication, parade attendees can enjoy a slice of Americana, 2022 style.
The entries often include Cub Scouts pedaling decorated bicycles, twirling groups, Folklorico dancers, equestrian entries, Sikhs showing off skills handed down through the ages, low riders, patriotic floats, tractors, vintage cars, Manteca Youth Focus All-Star team members and more
And bringing up the rear will be Manteca’s firefighters, and police officers.
You’ll hear it in the voice of kids and adults alike gathered curbside along fluttering flags — some of 2,400 placed along streets by volunteers with the Manteca Chamber of Commerce’s Flags Over Manteca.
The thousands of kids watching will reflect the rich cultural and ethnic mix that is the Family City today.
They will one day be the adults lining Main Street having benefited from acessing one of the great treasures of this land — a universal public school system and free public libraries.
America, when all is said and done, can be found not in politicians, celebrities or the super rich. Its heart, soul and backbone are in the construction worker. The secretary. The clerk. The farmer. The truck driver. The school teacher. The soldier. The nurse. The day laborer. The engineer. The farm worker.
Thomas Jefferson may have inspired legions but it took countless others whose hearts beat fast for the same love of liberty and freedom to turn words into deeds.
George Washington may have led through doom and gloom to triumph but it took the faithful commitment of men willing to leave the comfort of their homes and risk it all for the untried idea that common men could rise up against kings and determine their own collective destiny.
Joseph Strauss may have had the vision and the engineering skills to design the Golden Gate Bridge but it took the muscle, sweat, backbone — and even the lives — of laborers to actually create the modern wonder.
John D. Rockefeller may have set the bar for capitalism but it is the countless small business owners who really make the free-market system work.
Martin Luther King Jr. may have delivered the stirring and inspiring words that remind us equality in terms of human rights must be universal or it exists for none but it is the day-to-day actions of neighbors, co-workers, and strangers that determine whether we are indeed different than mere animals.
America is not perfect. But there are 339 million reasons we are strong as we celebrate the 246th anniversary of what still ranks as the most radical moments in the annals of mankind — the signing of the Declaration of Independence — and its lofty concept of putting all men on the same footings as kings that this nation still offers the best hope for oppression and tyranny to fade from the earth.
The truth about America is simple. It works because government for the people and by the people requires people to step up and do their share to make America work.
If not, the freedoms and liberties we enjoy may end up as just as a series of blips on the timeline of man and fade into oblivion just as the final embers of fireworks will Monday night.
To contact Dennis Wyatt, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org