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Happy Independence Day

Thursday, July 4th, 2013

English: Chicago Lake front bike trail

A glorious sunrise started this July 4th with the beauty of serenity. I looked at the golden beam in the sky above Lake Michigan and watched the American flag by the Field Museum—my indicator of the day’s weather by its waving in the air. It stood almost still early this morning, with a poise that was touching and peaceful.

I took it as a beckoning to get to the lakefront trail and celebrate this special day starting with a bike ride. There were people cycling, jogging and walking on the trail, and right behind the Field Museum, a variety of flowers in purple, yellow, pink, and red filled the air with a sweet fragrance and a vibration of life. I slowed down, taking in the smell and color.

“Happy July 4th,” a smartly dressed cyclist shouted as he passed on my left. It sounded so melodious to my ears than the usual “on your left” warning usually heard on the trail.

“Thank you,” I murmured after him, knowing he wouldn’t be able to hear me.

“Thank you,” I said again, this time louder into the air.

English: Chicago Lakefront Trail near Gold Coast

I remember the new meaning of the American flag to me right after 9/11. I was in Boston on a business trip when the attacks happened. With all the airports shut down, I rented a car and drove back to Chicago from Boston. What touched me most was the waving of American flags in front of so many residential and commercial buildings. That sense of defiance and patriotism were so deep and genuine that it put tears into my tears and made me feel proud to be part of this great country.

Today, as I speeded along the lakefront trail, enjoying the cool air, the ripples of waves on the lake, and peaceful surrounding, I felt ever more appreciative of the life this country had provided for us all.

Thank you, America, and happy July 4th, happy independence day!


Jian Ping, author of Mulberry Child: A Memoir of China, which has been developed into an award-winning documentary film by Susan Morgan Cooper and is narrated by Jacqueline Bisset.

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