Lionel had just heard the news. The HORRIBLE news! The Independence Day ceremonies had been cancelled in Larrystown this year. Apparently, no one was feeling very patriotic anymore. Everyone had other things to do and couldn’t be bothered with a parade or silly fireworks. Lionel was crushed. He loved the 4th of July, the sparklers, flags, and fireworks. Especially the fireworks!
“This can’t happen! There must be something I can do. I know, I’ll go to every person and every doorstep and ask all the folks to sign a letter to have the celebration anyway. I’ll take it to the Mayor. He can’t say no.”
After changing into his red, white, and blue T-shirt, he wrote “People who want to see 4th of July Fireworks” in marker on the front of his notebook. Armed with his notebook in one hand and his marker in the other Lionel set off to his first house.
After a few hours and even fewer signatures Lionel was feeling down. He trudged along staring down at his shoe tops, ignoring the crowd of kids following him. Richie, Zack, Tad, Willy, and even Lionel’s big brother Feeney trailed Lionel shaking their heads and laughing at him. They couldn’t believe he was silly enough to walk door to door.
Lionel came to a stop and found himself standing right in front of Mrs. Weathersham’s house. Mrs. Weathersham was a widow and the subject of many scary rumors. It had even been said she had a two-tailed dog. Every kid in town avoided walking by her house. Sweat formed on Lionel’s forehead as much from his nerves as from the heat. The kids watched in horror; no way would Lionel have the courage to go knock on Mrs. Weathersham’s door!
“What the heck. Everyone else has said no, what have I got to lose? All the kids are laughing at me anyway. Here I go.”
He walked up to the front door and knocked two times. Everyone watched expectantly. After only a few seconds, Lionel decided he’d waited long enough. He started to turn away when he heard the door open. He peaked over his shoulder and there stood Mrs. Weathersham.
The crowd held their breath certain she would pull Lionel into the house and he’d never be heard from again. Lionel said something to her, but her face remained unchanged. He was DOOMED! Out of nowhere, a smile crept across Mrs. Weathersham’s face and she reached for the marker. She signed her name, returned the marker, and leaned down to give Lionel a kiss right on his forehead before disappearing back into the house. The kids were stunned. Even Feeney was speechless as Lionel walked towards the group.
“What did she say, Lionel?” asked Tad.
“She thanked me for trying to keep the Independence Day spirit alive. Her husband was killed in a war a long time ago, along with a bunch of others. They died so we can be free today. Lots of people have sacrificed and died, and we need to always remember them and celebrate our freedom ‘cause it isn’t free. That’s what she said,” said Lionel.
The crowd was in awe of Lionel although they wouldn’t say it. Not one of them had the courage to do what Lionel had done. For the briefest of moments, they all respected Lionel. He could see it in their eyes.
“Can we help you get signatures so everyone remembers why we’re free?” asked Tad’s buddy Willy.
“Sure thing.” Lionel gladly accepted their help and they all headed off to other houses in search of signatures.
Lionel sat on a blanket as the final hint of daylight left the sky. He finished the last sip of his cherry soda and laid down flat on his back looking up into the sky. The first firework raced upwards and exploded red, white and blue.
He smiled and said to himself, “GOD BLESS AMERICA!”