The Fourth of July is always a favorite holiday of Bryan’s. It amazes me that he grasps abstract concepts like “freedom” better than some adults I know.
He came to our family picnic Sunday clad in red, white and blue Phillies gear, laden with all sorts of writing materials, “show and tell” items and CDs to play. Having appropriate patriotic music on the Fourth is always a priority with Bryan and, so, he laid out his collection of “American Music” CDs for me to view and choose. There was quite the variety of musical offerings from the soundtrack of the movie “Gettysburg” to selections by the Air Force Band and Marine Chorus. I chose one and began to play it. Bryan instantly began to conduct the band with vigor as “The Stars and Stripes Forever” blasted away. Needing to turn down the music because of family conversation got me quite the glare from my son.
Before our picnic meal on the deck, Bryan showed me some words scrawled on a small piece of paper. After reading, I inquired as to their meaning. He was not pleased with me when I couldn’t read his mind as readily as I usually do. “Use your words”, I admonished. With a disgruntled sigh, he proceeded to tell me that he wished to say grace before our meal. I was proud that he had thought to ask permission to say the blessing. For many years, Bryan just assumed he would be the designated “grace-giver” at all family functions. It has taken a while to teach him to first ask permission since other family members may like to have the honor from time to time.
We gathered on the deck, holding hands in a circle while Bryan read his made-up prayer. It ran something like this:
‘A short prayer for the Fourth of July”
2 Corinthians 3:17: “Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.”
( NIV: New International Version)
to which Bryan added – “In the land of the free and the home of the brave.” Amen.
A simple prayer, to be sure. But what I marvel at is Bryan’s ability to find a scripture appropriate to the day about freedom and link it to text from our National Anthem. Binding God and country together in a simplistic, meaningful way. Conjuring the Holy Spirit on the birthday of our nation.
And, how wonderful is it that a young man with Down Syndrome can have the same freedoms that all Americans can enjoy! Yes, there still is discrimination going on in our country against this population. But our nation has come so far since the day Bryan was born, including and incorporating this portion of society into the mainstream.
I pray that this progress will continue into the future, enhancing life and freedoms for other generations to come.