Show could not have been more American

Published 5:45 am Wednesday, July 12, 2000

By By Sherry Digmon
Staff Writer
Could the Fourth of July celebration in Atmore have been any more American? Any more small town USA?
Could the fireworks have been more spectacular?
Could the people in the stands have paid any more homage to the veterans on the field?
As Bonnie Bartel Latino said, "You know, I looked down the rows toward the concession stand and people were fanning with church fans, waving their little flags … People were eatin' watermelon, and the big flags by the watermelon vendors were flapping in the breeze and the veterans were on the field … It was Americana in Technicolor."
It was truly a night like no other in the annals of Atmore's history.
Since last week's event, we at The Advance have heard tons of accolades poured out on organizer Jerry Gehman. In our own discussions with him during the past week, he has tried to shift the attention off himself and put it on the community.
That's all well and good, but the community didn't have the vision. Jerry did.
When he first told me several months ago that he wanted Atmore to have a Fourth of July celebration, he said he felt he could organize a good event – if he could raise the money.
Several times over the following months, his comments were the same with little variation.
He could put together something Atmore could be proud of – if he could raise the money.
He could buy enough fireworks to have a really good show – if he could raise the money.
Well, Jerry apparently raised the money. It was a heck of a night.
But Jerry's efforts on behalf of Atmore's citizens raised more than money.
Atmore's celebration raised Atmore to a new level. Tuesday night, we were everything we love about America and Atmore. We were patriotric, civic-minded, one in our sense of community.
We enjoyed a summer night outdoors with flags waving overhead and stirring marches filling the air. We listened to inspiring speakers.
We cheered our veterans and basked in the freedom they made possible.
We lifted our eyes toward heaven.
And we bowed our heads in prayer.
We were a Norman Rockwell painting.
We were Americana in Technicolor – red, white and blue.

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