Plant City’s sense of patriotism will be on full display soon as the community prepares for Veterans Day.
I sit in front of the piano and try to plunk out the melody of my new song. I am 14 and learning how to play while my twin sister, Debbie, has played for years (and is really good). She could take the music and with both hands masterfully complete it with arpeggios, runs and building chords. Me, I just sit and focus with one finger on the first seven notes: C, C, E, G, G, C, B.
I asked for the song because I heard it on the radio. It was a catchy tune and I thought it would be easy to play, or at least attempt. You may not know the notes, but you probably remember the singers. It was a song made popular in 1973 by Tony Orlando and Dawn. The song, “Tie a Yellow Ribbon,” was nominated at the Grammys for Best Song and Best Group Song.
It’s been 36 years and still the message of that song is still as powerful today as it has ever been.
This little ribbon has become more than a popular song — it has become a powerful visual proclamation of the love and respect we have for those in our Armed Forces. The symbol of a yellow ribbon became widely known in civilian life in the 1970s as a reminder that an absent loved one, either in the military or in jail, would be welcomed home on their return. Throughout the years to follow, our nation would undergo numerous wars and conflicts like the ongoing war on terrorism to protect thousands of families in these United States and across our world. When you drive around Plant City this week, you will see yellow ribbons around more than just the oak trees. They will be on light poles, mailboxes and street signs. You will see these tapestries of truth and honor in neighborhoods, homes and uptown businesses.
You will see them because of people like Mrs. Judy Wise and civic organizations like the Elks that took the lead to host a Veterans’ BBQ at 12 p.m. on Sunday, Nov. 10 to honor our veterans. The landscape of Plant City will have the ribbons because of the great National Honor Society students of Plant City High School that are learning and growing in their “call of service” and gratitude for the legacy of freedom provided for them. It is because of businesses like Hopewell Funeral Home, which sponsors a Veterans Day Celebration at 10 a.m. on Nov. 9 at Veterans’ Memorial Park. It is their 34th year to “tie a yellow ribbon” for the community.
President John F. Kennedy stated, “A nation reveals itself not only by the men it produces but also by the men it honors, the men it remembers.” In 2 Samuel 22:2-4, David calls out to the Lord because His “presence” was a ribbon of reminder for him in his darkest moments. What I love about my community is that it is not the strips of ribbon that create the atmosphere of Americana, but the people of Plant City that are the walking ribbons of a rich heritage of duty, honor and country. It is this weekend that we lean forward to recognize and remember our veterans that have stood for life and liberty, even at the cost of their own lives. We honor those that continue to stand as warriors of light and say to the darkness, “No further!” As long as we have the lyrics of liberty in our hearts and tune of truth and freedom in our lives, we will not stop with only one day to recognize our veterans. We will do it all year long.
Now that would be a better way to end the “Tie a Yellow Ribbon” song because we would be more than just a “hundred yellow ribbons around the old oak tree.” We would be the whole forest.
Dr. Daniel Middlebrooks is the Senior Chaplain of First Call Church and the CEO/President of Chaplaincy Care, Inc.