Around 9:30 last night, I was privileged to witness an event that brought together a group of people that would have diversity trainers all a-twitter. This group consisted of a variety of skin colors, head coverings, styles, ages, political leanings, and languages. What could draw such a large crowd of completely different factions and unite them for a common purpose? Fireworks!
The Fourth of July affords us the opportunity to walk side by side down to the river to celebrate who we are. This day draws us together as we react to the spectacle in as many different ways as there are individuals. Teen-agers sprawl on blankets; old men make their way down the sidewalks in their scooters; toddlers laugh and point from their strollers; young couples stand by the fence with their arms around each other while looking up at the sky; others just smile. One little girl stands cheerleader-straight and, as each rocket is launched, she holds her arms straight up in a V, then twirls her hands like a magician, and then spreads her fingers as that one explodes in the air, pretending that she and she alone has made it light up the sky.
The two young parents beside us were speaking something besides English, and I became aware of the fact that others were probably conversing among themselves in still other languages as we all stood gazing upward. Occasionally, in fireworks displays, a new and different pattern is introduced, and this always elicits a reaction from the crowd. Last night, when the new creation made its debut, the response was a collective “Ahh.” Speaking in unison, we the people, regardless of ethnicity, age, or any other category, all used the same expression to articulate our admiration of something original, special, and beautiful.
And there it was — our common language — American.