The morning of July 4th was bright even before the sun had crested the mountains encompassing Grove Creek Canyon—perfect weather for a program entitled “By the Dawn’s Early Light.” Just after 7 am, families started filling the trail head, setting up chairs and laying out blankets to watch and listen to the Independence Day program organized by Kyle Fox to honor the service members of the nation and celebrate the country they keep free.
At 7:30, the program began. A color guard composed of members of the military and Boy Scouts of America posted the colors while hundreds of onlookers placed hands on hearts in silent reverence. This was followed by an echoing cannon fire and a beautiful rendition of the National Anthem.
Old Glory in Grove Creek Canyon
The day before (Sunday, July 3rd) a procession of walkers and bikers had followed the flag as it was carried up the trail and hung across the canyon. Cords spanning the distance between mountains served as the support system for the main spectacle of the week—the national flag. The Star Spangled Banner unfurled from the cords and rippled in the wind. Its incredible 30-by-60-foot dimensions could be seen from miles away. Throughout the entire week, the flag hangs across the canyon as a standard and is even lit throughout each night by a huge spotlight sponsored by Low VA Rates. On Monday morning, the audience watched in awe as the flag was again unfurled, and they began cheering to see its stripes and stars waving.
These opening performances were followed by a commemoration of veteran and active-duty service members in the audience. A strong spirit of patriotism and respect permeated the group as each of those service members stood (some proudly, others a little hesitantly) before the crowds. To see veterans of the wars we always hear about joining us that day was truly an unforgettable experience. One veteran stood in response to the call for those who served in WWII, and everyone in the audience rose to their feet in yet another standing ovation to recognize this man who had served in a war that affected the entire world.
Giving Words of Thanks for Our Flag
At the conclusion of this commemoration, three speakers came to the mic in turn: Les Langford, Teresa Hunt, and Dennis Adamson. All three spoke passionately about military service, its effect on them, and who their heroes are today. Teresa Hunt, a mother who lost a son to military service, related tearfully the time she first saw the gigantic flag hanging over the canyon the previous year. She told us how she had buried her son under that same pattern. Each of these speakers reminded us of one simple yet hard truth; serving this country means sacrificing, and although the U.S. isn’t perfect, those sacrifices are worth it.
As the event drew to a close, the audience followed along with the lyrics in their programs provided by Low VA Rates to join together in singing My Country Tis of Thee. At the climax of the song, dozens of white doves were released. The birds flew in line with each other out of sight of the group. And this really was an incredible sight as hundreds of people gathered there sang, “Our fathers’ God, to thee, author of liberty, to thee we sing.”
Low VA Rates’ Contributions
Even at the conclusion of the event, people mingled to speak with those who contributed and to those who had served in the military. There were photos and flowers and overall a very strong community presence.
Low VA Rates was happy to contribute to Follow the Flag by providing the program booklets and the spotlight to light the flag at night. We know how important it is to recognize the country’s birthday and those who have fought and dedicated portions or all of their lives to make the country what it is today.