As we waited in McDonald's Lake View lobby to get our dinner reservation, we started talking to a chirpy little young college student who was working there for her summer job. This was on July 4th and we were on our Montana vacation. Her name was Suzie.
She seemed happy and full of energy and gave us a lot of information loaded with the Maps and alternative roads to go to the Many Glaciers park; that we were planning next day. She surprisingly knew a lot about Hindi movies as apparently one of her close college friend's was an Indian. And she did bring up that topic volunteerily even as she chatted with us.
After a while we settled around our restaurant table and were waiting patiently to be serviced. I started observing things around myself. The setting was perfect. It was about an hour before dusk. The sun was steadily settling down. The lake across the tables was serene and silent. The Mountains overlooking the lake were creating just the right kind of cinematic effect with shadow and stuff.
And then there were different folks of different ages wine-ing and eating. Some of them were retired couples, and were enjoying wine overlooking the lake view, talking softly to one another. Some of them were big family groups and were noisy with jokes and laughters all around. Some tables had young couples trying to manage their cranky babies. It was a lively evening.
And just when we were about to start, the same chirpy girl, Suzie, came in the restaurant and made an announcement. She was again full of energy and she was like - "Folks, Everyone... today is July 4th and I think we should sing our national anthem. Can you please all join us? "
And she continued .. "So who's going to take the lead...?" And she was laughing and giggling...
And all of us in the restaurant just got caught in the moment. We stood up and before we knew, she had taken the lead. She did not have a good voice for a singer. But her sheer enthusiasm took care of that part. The whole dinner place came alive. Everyone joined and every one sang. Old, young every one. I noticed even the baby at our next table who was all cranky, shut up for that moment. May be she too got surprised by the sudden change in the environment around her.
Me and my wife stood up. We do not know the words of Americas national song. So we just put our hands on our hearts and stood silently.
I realized how powerful a song can be. I am not a citizen of this nation. But I would stand up for any national anthem. Not only America.
That day, the little girl showed how simple deeds can show patriotism. Patriotism is not a monopoly of the select few. She may have a lot of complains from this nation. She may have her whiny days. But on the 4th of July, she made us all look smaller than her. She became a hero for those 2 mins.
After the song everyone cheered her lustily. For those few minutes, she had made us all - ONE. For me the moment signified, how patriotism is not a bad word. As long as there are Suzies in this nation, no 9/11 can shake it's spirit. It was an inspired and spontaneous moment as far as I can tell.