On the 4th of July, for the second year running, Incarnation Anglican celebrated Independence Day together with our neighbors. I’d like to declare we’ve started a tradition, mostly because I hope to do it for many years to come. It goes like this: we begin at my apartment in late afternoon to eat together and gather in the air conditioning before walking to the Air Force Memorial, putting our blankets down on the grassy slope and awaiting sunset. I love breaking bread together and the fellowship of the first phase.
But my favorite part is sitting on the lawn of the memorial and watching all the blank spaces fill in with families large and small, wearing Indonesian batik, Indian sari, and flag-colored t-shirts and ball caps. While we wait, the kids from the Vietnamese family start playing with the kids from the Guatemalan family. A toddler from the Ethiopian group behind me sneaks around my folding chair and puts his chubby little toddler hand on my shoulder. When I turn and smile, we both laugh. We’re happy because my family came to this country three generations ago, and maybe his just arrived. Then again, maybe they’ve been here for five generations. One would never know.
And we were all welcome. And we could all celebrate. We’re smiling because everyone is sitting together beneath the blue weeping willows of fireworks, and the oohs and ahhs of the children speaking Spanish are as full of thrill and delight as the ones speaking Arabic and the ones speaking English. All the voices are little and loud. All the giggles are joyful. All the languages and the faces around me make up the real South Arlington. My neighbors and I, sharing bug spray and cold water, are this community. I’m so blessed to be here among them all.