A string of firecrackers sputtered in the background. The celebration was kicking off with a big parade. Of those watching, some stood tall, others removed their caps and placed it over their hearts. Still, some just sat on the curb without any regard, as the color guard marched by at the front of the Fourth of July parade.
Jasper, an angry old man shuffled down to a row of teens sitting on the curb with difference written on their faces and listening to iPods. He got the teen’s attention with a quick poke of his cane into the gut of the coolest guy. The teens bolted to their feet.
“What is it with you old man,” shouted Terry with surprise. “I have the right to sit here.”
“You have no respect for our flag or your freedom,” growled Jasper. “Stand at attention and honor those who have gone before you.”
“I don’t have to do any such thing,” quipped Terry.
The color guard overheard the distraction and retired Sergeant Olsen stepped away from his formation.
“What seems to be the problem here, boys?” asked Olsen.
“This old guy is trying to tell me how to live,” griped Terry. “He’s trying to judge me.”
“I merely told them that men like you deserve respect and honor,” stated Jasper.
Olsen looked into the eyes of both men, and then shook his head as he walked away.
“Hey wait a minute,” shouted Terry. “I thought you were going to get this old guy off of our cases.”
“Non-sense, you fool,” countered Jasper. “He was supposed to teach you a lesson.”
Olsen stopped dead in his tracks. He slowly turned.
“I risked my life in Desert Storm, so you had the right to have and hold your own viewpoint,” stated Olsen. “I just wish you took that freedom and did something together during these hard economic times to help this fine community you share.”
Olsen turned to head back to his color guard, but jasper quickly added, “I’m sorry you had to risk your life for this punk.”
Olsen turned to the men.
“I’m sorry you both feel a sense of entitlement, instead of graciously accepting the gift of freedom thousands of men and women made possible for you.”
Olsen jogged back into formation. Jasper headed back up the street. And, Terry and his friends sat back on the curb.
All were free to consider change, but only Olsen had done something about it. Smiling as he marched down the street, Olsen couldn’t help but wonder what greatness would soon follow those who chose to do something with their freedom for others. For he knew that self-sacrifice, was the only thing that moved our country forward.