Every year I mean to count and every year I forget. So I cannot assert with any journalistic precision that Saturday's parade had exactly 1,000 flags. But there were a lot. As many people noted, it is the one parade where participants almost seem to outnumber the spectators.
But in a community this small, we are all spectators as well as participants. Those on the sidelines cheering the flag bearers on mirror the citizens of the city cheering on the researchers, scientists and military personnel on the base. Most of us came here for a patriotic reason, whichever side of the street we are on.
The English major in me has to note that the number “one thousand” has significance, though. According to some literary sources it is not necessarily literal but means an immensity, a fullness, a multitude. The number thousand appears frequently in scripture, reportedly some 521 times in the King James Bible. In the book of Revelation, the devil is bound in the bottomless pit for 1,000 years and the saints reign with Christ for 1,000 years. In the Song of Songs the fruit of Solomon's vineyard would cost 1,000 shekels of silver. And many, many other references.
The meaning is clear; in these references, too, it means “a lot.” I think our local parade is hearkening to the immensity, fullness, multitude meaning. So whether the flags total 1,000 or not the message is the same: this is an area with an immensity of patriotism. And this was the theme of several speeches.
After a summer of extreme muggy heat, the weather on Saturday was perfect.
A stream of luminaries took the podium in Freedom Park. Many complimented our area on the overt and enthusiastic show of patriotism.
“What a tremendous outpouring of support for this unforgettable visual demonstration for pride in the United States of America,” said Capt. Paul Dale.
I was especially moved by the words of Vice Mayor Eddie Thomas.
“Today we are not here to just honor the flag but what it symbolizes. We are honoring our freedom. The freedom to worship as we please, to speak as we please, to vote as we please. We are honoring the hard-working men and women who have made this the greatest place in the world,” Thomas said.
“This anniversary reminds us that freedom is not a resting place, but a constant goal spurring us on for ever greater achievements. America has always recognized the historic responsibility to march forward in freedom.”
Keenan Hoschchild read a statement from House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy and Jean Fuller spoke movingly about teaching children about their patriotic heritage.
Honorary Ridgecrest resident Assemblyman Vince Fong shared a personal 9/11 remembrance and keynote speaker Josh Dhanens urged everyone to look at the larger philosophical implications of service and sacrifice.
Most moving to me, once again, was the bagpipe rendition of Amazing Grace. This always gives me chills.
Overall, the event was a success yet again, moving and inspiring. Still there are those who think the community may be ready for an upgrade.
DI columnist Skip Gorman posted to me on Facebook Saturday:
“This remarkable and singular event sets our community apart from every other. I think that we are soon ready for 2,000 flags!”
— Jessica Weston is City Editor at the Daily Independent. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org
The views expressed are those of the columnist and do not necessarily represent the official stance of the Daily Independent.