Earlier this month, I had the distinct pleasure of attending the Patriot Flag ceremony at Rouses Point.
Sitting under that 60-foot flag was an amazing experience I won't soon forget.
The Patriot Flag was donated to America by a group of California businessmen following the funeral of a veteran. It was dedicated to the memory of military personnel, first- and second-responders and public-safety personnel.
By the time the flag ends up at a permanent resting place, it will have traveled to 50 states in 50 weeks, including stops at the Flight 93 Rose Garden in Pennsylvania, the Pentagon in Arlington, Va., and Manhattan Battery Park in New York.
Something else I won't soon forget is the patriotism I felt that day in Rouses Point. The beautiful flag waved against a clear blue sky, touched gently by the lake breezes.
With the American Legion Montgomery Post 912 emceeing the event, the Montgomery Hose, Hook and Ladder Co. of Rouses Point and the St. Paul de L'lle Noix (Quebec) Fire Department shared their ladder trucks to suspend the precious banner.
At first, I wondered, "Why would a Canadian fire truck be here?" Later in the ceremony, my question was answered: The two towns work hand in hand to cover fires, and 24 Canadians died in the Sept. 11 tragedy. That lends a whole new meaning to "Hands Across the Border."
The processional began with the haunting sound of the Border Patrol Bag Pipers and Drums. They were followed by the American and Canadian fire department members, Canadian and American legions, National Guard, Veterans of Foreign Wars, Army Reserve, Border Patrol, Custom and Border Protection, Sheriff's Department, Girl Scouts and Boy Scouts.
Each one presented themselves with honor in appreciation of the flag. All these people, in this small town, with a very big message: patriotism.
High-school senior Matthew Letourneau played "Taps" with the expertise of the best military musician. The ceremony was rounded out by local residents who make up the Community Singers and the Strawhatters band.
I had to leave for another appointment, but I found out that shortly after that a New York City first-responder who was trapped in one of the towers until being rescued also shared his heart about being loyal to America.
Rouses Point is a special little town that I've driven through many times on my way to Vermont. I've read about their friendliness but never actually spent time there except to eat at a restaurant or two.
I'm not one to attend every parade, flag ceremony or dedication, but I may have to change my ways. Rouses Point showed me that it's important to show your patriotism and sense of community.
That ceremony was a kickoff to other Fourth of July events in the small border town. The next day, a parade, car and motorcycle show, music, carnival rides and special kids events filled the day, and a giant fireworks display was held in the evening, as has been the tradition for years.
If Rouses Point (probably the farthest north the Patriot Flag will travel in the United States) is any indicator of small-town America, we are in good hands, folks.
Don't show your appreciation of this great country just on the Fourth of July. Be a proud and supportive American every day of the year. I intend to do my part.
As always, please be kind to each other. The world needs more kindness.
Susan Tobias lives in Plattsburgh with her husband, Toby. She has been a Press-Republican newsroom employee since 1977. The Tobiases have six children, 18 grandchildren and two great-grandchildren. They enjoy traveling to Maine and Colorado, and in her spare time, Susan loves to research local history and genealogy. Reach her by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.