When the flag comes marching by, the 4th of July crowd in Ely roars

There was a moment on the 4th of July in Ely, Minnesota when it felt very special to be a United States citizen.
Independence Day is marked by many things in our country, from parades to picnics and from parties to fireworks. There’s more red, white and blue than you can shake a stick at.
This year we celebrated our 238th year since we declared our independence from Great Britain in 1776.
The thirteen American colonies had already been at war with King George III and the British for over a year. And when ink was put to paper, these famous words would fill history books from then on:
We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.
In order to obtain and retain those rights, blood was shed in the Revolutionary War and shed again in too many wars over the next 238 years.
Once a year we take a day to recognize and rightfully be proud of the country we live in. July 4 is a special day to be an American.
Ely is known for its July 4 parade. People plan their vacations and their plans to be able to see our parade.
But before the 14 pallets of candy and goodies from Zup’s are spread out along the parade route, before the classic cars, horses and fire trucks, there’s a moment when we all stand - when the Ely Honor Guard comes marching by.
This year there were 16 members, each decked out in their camo uniforms, some carrying flags, some carrying guns, some just marching lock step along.
A cadence was barked out by Bob Niskala as the crowd arose to respond with salutes and hands held over hearts. There were cheers and shouts of “Thank you!” from the sidewalks. There was that sense of our nation coming together, despite our differences to recognize we are all in this together.
Members of the Ely Honor Guard heard and felt that sense as well. They noted that from the high school heading west on Harvey, turning at the post office and then taking a right on Sheridan, as they marched there was one constant: people standing, clapping and cheering - loudly.
That response made them proud to represent our country on our country’s most special day. And they knew we were just as proud of them for representing us.