It was the Fourth of July, and I found myself visiting my uncle and his friends in Huntington, West Virginia. They took me to a parade. I stood behind a row of neatly arranged chairs where the older citizens of the town sat. I watched how everyone respected the order of the day. How they rose and saluted every time the flag passed us by. There was no shoving, no screaming, no pickpocketing. Police officers were patrolling, but hardly needed for anything. The people in that small town by the Appalachians were all friendly, welcoming and patriotic. In a region where everyone seemed to be armed, and "carried the difference," as they used to say, I did not have a sense of trepidation nor felt I was in danger at any time.
I met many neighbors of my family that day. They were all so kind. I did not hear any divisive comments focusing on my dark eyes versus their blue or green, or my foreign accent versus their fluent English.
All I heard were invitations to come back again soon to visit my family that they could have us all over for dinner. It was Saturday. The following day, my uncle drove me by the area as we started our way back to Columbus and my school. Everything looked clean, spotless and deserted.
" Where is everybody ?" I asked. " Church, " came the reply, "and after church, they will be home with their families. Nothing else happens here on Sundays..."
To Be Continued...