CLIFF’S EDGE: I began thinking these thoughts shortly after dawn’s early light


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I began thinking these thoughts shortly after dawn’s early light on Tuesday…

My day had begun with the posting of our American flag in the holder at the front of the carport, a routine practice on holidays.

That done, I drove off to see how the most familiar part of my America – my neighborhood – was participating in its 241st birthday celebration.

I found a lot of flag-flying for sure.

By the time I’d reached and turned south on Ambaum Blvd., I’d seen a dozen or so flags atop yard poles or draped from houses, garages or other structures.

Cutting westward into the residential area above Seahurst Park, I quickly counted a similar number. I also passed an impressive number of folks exercising their legs and lungs as well as their patriotism as they strode through the neighborhood.

One wore a stars-and-stripes baseball cap. Another was in red, white and blue shorts.

I slowed to admire a 13-star U.S. flag above the front steps of one home.

The small part of America that I regularly regard as my neighborhood extends from Roxbury Avenue at the edge of Seattle on the north to the border of Des Moines on the south, so I turned south for a quick visit to my Normandy Park extremities.

It was a calm, quiet early morning suitable for calm, quiet thinking.

I paused for a cappuccino at a strip-mall Starbucks and enjoyed it while observing activity at a nearby fireworks stand.

This stand was sponsored by Rainbow Girls, just one of the many organizations that take advantage of this holiday to raise money for activities the rest of the year. While a worthy cause, it and all the other stands likely may cause a bit of distress later in the day at homes like ours housing two cats and a dog.

A stream of families approached the stand, and each walked away with at least one plastic bag of assorted flash and bang.

Back in the car, I heard on the radio that the previous day a young man had lost a thumb and two fingers to fireworks. Have fun, folks, I thought to myself, but please be safe….and reasonably quiet.

A short distance up the hill from where I’d pitched my coffee cup into a recycling receptacle, I came to Big Picture School where this past year I’d volunteered two hours a week with middle-school and high-school students.

They were wonderful young people, and they had reflected in their range of ethnicity the diversity of the Highline School District. That meant that some could come to school every day with concerns about possible changes in immigration policy that might affect their family’s future..

For the present, they could sit at the birthday table this day.

From the street in front of the school, I watched airliners taking off from Sea-Tac Airport, carrying passengers to all parts of this country and beyond in a taken-for-granted display of another freedom, that of movement.

Across the street from the school are the expansive grounds of the Buddhist organization Shinnyo-en USA. According to its website, its name translates into “garden without borders.”

Freedom of religion came to mind. While drinking my coffee earlier, I had admired the nearby steeples of Normandy Park’s Presbyterian church, and, as I headed north on 1st Avenue toward White Center, I focused on the presence along the way of the many other places where that freedom is exercised…Catholic, Lutheran, Baptist, Methodist….Victory Outreach Church, Burien Community Church, Seventh-day Adventist, Church of Latter-day Saints.

It’s all part of what this day is all about.

A common element to all three communities in “my slice of America” is growth: new businesses, new store names, new housing developments.

In White Center that includes a Salvadoran bakery and restaurant and a fish market selling Tilapla and Ca-He, alongside U.S. catfish.

On a nearby street sits a Mexican food truck, right across the street from…a fireworks stand.

In my wanderings that day I encountered so much more of what this country is all about and concluded the day viewing fireworks in the skies above Tacoma and Burien to the south and Bainbridge Island and Seattle to the north.

I and the animals also heard the nearby fireworks of Three Tree Point, Vashon Island and closer.

The noise seemed somewhat diminished this year. Colors were enhanced.

Most importantly, at day’s end I was confident flags still flew and most fingers were likely intact.

So were our freedoms.

The news tomorrow online and delivered to my front porch, would undoubtedly report our flaws du jour, but that’s the beauty of that other freedom we carry forward to another Fourth of July—freedom of expression.

It not only permits us to proclaim our pride, but also to address our continuing challenges, here and across the country.

Cliff Rowe is a retired journalist and journalism professor. (He practiced both in a time before journalists and what they produced were considered “enemies of the people.”) He and his family have lived in the Shorewood area of White Center (then Burien) since 1969 when they returned to the Northwest after seven years in the Chicago area. There, following graduate school, he wrote and edited with the Chicago Sun-Times and with Paddock Publications in the Chicago suburbs. On moving here, he was with The Seattle Times for 11 years before turning to teaching journalism at Pacific Lutheran University for 35 years, retiring in 2015.

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Comments

3 Responses to “CLIFF’S EDGE: I began thinking these thoughts shortly after dawn’s early light”
  1. Ben Smith says:

    Great piece Cliff in sharing our amazing community

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  2. Jan Noorda says:

    Another great view from the Cliff’s Edge. We need to stay vigilant to protect it in these days of fake news and attacks on freedom of the press.

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  3. Clean it up! says:

    Very nice 4th of July coverage Cliff! My kind of low key day of celebration, too, though I did it by bus. Thanks for reminding me of the freedoms one tends to forget about, when they are given at birth. Another one I sometime do think about, is the freedom to travel from state to state – ‘from sea to shining sea’ without showing any documents. That’s pretty amazing, when you think how big our country is and how divers each state’s laws are. WE are so fortunate to so grandly benefit from all that has gone before us! – Looking forward to your future posts.

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