Thursday, July 04, 2002

Happy birthday America.

I have a lot of feelings about this Fourth of July. It did feel different than the last one due to the events of September 11th. You just couldn't help thinking about it through the celebration and fireworks.

On July 2nd, I went to the Hollywood Bowl with Cathy and Reese, and Reese's wonderful parents, Iris and David. The Bowl has their 4th of July spectacular with fireworks on the 2nd, 3rd, and 4th because there is so much demand for tickets.

The Bowl is a great place to spend the 4th, as you can bring your picnic baskets, food, alcohol, and whatever else suits your fancy right to your seat with you. There are places to picnic before the concert starts that makes for great people watching and the atmosphere in the Hollywood Hills can't be beat. You just spread out a blanket and your food, and the parade of people walking by never ceases to be a form of pre-show entertainment.

The Hollywood Bowl in its Fourth of July splendor. Fireworks shoot from the top to the music as the orchestra plays below. The Bowl is an outdoor amphitheater nestled in the Hollywood Hills and seats about 28,000 people.

This year, the security was incredibly tight. We all had to file though several security checkpoints where we were wanded and had our belongings hand searched. I had no idea how they were going to handle the tons of food baskets, coolers and backpacks, but they did it, and did it expediently and politely.

John Williams was the guest conductor for the Los Angeles Philharmonic. Maestro Williams is famous for composing over 80 movie scores, including some small films such as Star Wars, Jaws, Raiders of the Lost Ark, and E.T.

James Taylor was also on the ticket that night. His voice sounds exactly the same, smooth as glass, and soothing to the spirit. It has the effect of a silk shawl wrapped around your bare skin on a warm summer night. What an incredible talent. For the encore, he sang America the Beautiful to which the entire audience stood and sang along. It was very moving.

There was still something different about this 4th, and it was evident that everyone around me was feeling it. Though the celebrations were patriotic and jubilant, there was definitely an undercurrent of something that I can't really put it into words right now.

I wrote this in my journal on New Year's Day, January 1st, 2002, a little over two months after the attacks. I think that it sums everything up:

I watched the ball drop live on TV in Times Square. It was 9:00 PM my time, but to me, once that ball drops it signifies that the New Year has arrived.

Times Square was filled with celebrating people and Mayor Guilliani was the Master of Ceremonies. He pressed the lever that started the ball on its journey downward.

I did get emotional, watching the defiance that New York was showing, listening to the patriotic songs and watching the crowd sing along. The strength in numbers almost seemed to lift New York City on its shoulders, like the wounded player who had just scored the winning goal.

To the terrorists:

You injured America's best player, but we still managed to triumph and hold it high for everyone to see. We can be hurt, but we will continue to prevail. Our smiles are not wiped off our faces so easily. And though they can be replaced by tears, it is only a temporary substitution. Though we do not forget our sorrow, we remember to dance in the streets and celebrate our freedom to do so.

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