As Lady Liberty
“Marilyn, we’re leaving!” my younger sister Katie called from the top of the stairs.
“Almost ready!” I called back.
I was sitting at my arts and crafts desk in the basement putting the finishing touches on my homemade pro-life t-shirt. It wasn’t the greatest work ever done, I admit, but for a last minute permanent-marker-on-old-t-shirt job, it wasn’t half bad.
Today was our town’s annual 4th of July County Fair Parade, and for the first time ever me and my family would be marching in it as part of the Pro-Life float! Some friends of ours had asked us to help out this year.
“Katie! Marilyn! Are you girls coming?” Mom was waiting for us outside with baby John already buckled into the stroller. “There’s bug spray and sunscreen here – make sure you guys put some on. It’s going to be hot out there today.”
The temperature was already in the high 90s, and after walking around for hours with the sun glinting off of the asphalt road it would be even hotter, so we all followed Mom’s instructions and slathered sunscreen on. Mom sprayed the twins, Thomas and Gregory, mercilessly with bug spray while I helped five year old Elena rub her sunscreen in.
“Okay, are we ready to go?” Dad came out wearing a baseball cap and carrying the little cooler filled with ice and bottled water.
“Yeah!” we all said together, and Dad led the way.
It wasn’t a long walk to the parking lot behind the middle school and library, where the parade would start from. We weren’t really sure where our float was, though, so it did take a few minutes of walking through the rows parked of trucks, trailers, cars, and tractors before we spotted Mr. Hart. He waved to us as we came up.
“You kids want any popsicles?” he asked, pulling out some of the cold treats from the cooler on top of the float.
“Yes, please!”the kids said.
I studied the float as I bit off a piece of orange-flavored ice. It was a flat trailer lined with bales of hay, the coolers hidden in the center behind them, and near the back was a small archway.
“So we have some signs for the older kids to carry,” Mr. Hart was saying to dad.“And the younger ones can hand out candy.”
“We get to throw candy?” Thomas asked.
Some of the older ladies from our parish had made a costume for someone to dress up as Lady Liberty and ride on the float.
“I was going to do it,” one of the ladies, Mrs. Fleischman, said, “but it seems such a shame since we have two lovely young ladies here. Does one of you want to do it instead?”
“Ooh, Marilyn should do it!” Katie volunteered me.
“I don’t know Katie . . .” I said, looking dubiously at the sparkly polyester robe they’d prepared for the role.
“Come on! You’d make a great Lady Liberty!” Katie said.
“Okay, maybe . . .” I still wasn’t so sure.
“Wonderful!” Mrs. Fleischman handed me the silver gown. “Just slip this over your head then. And here, we have a Bible for you to carry. Oh, and where’s the . . .”
“The Parkers are here!” Katie waved to our friends.
“There they are,” Mrs. Fleischman said. “They made a crown and a torch for you to carry.”
“Sorry we’re a little late,”Mrs. Parker said. “The girls and I worked on these for Lady Liberty . . .”
And she pulled a torch made from a flashlight with silver paper taped on it and red and orange plastic flames coming out of the top, and a foam-and-glitter-glue crown out of her tote bag. They were made really creatively, but I was starting to get more embarrassed about this whole idea . . .
I put on the silver robe, and Katie helped me to fasten the foam crown on my head.
“You look really neat!” she gave a thumbs up. “I’m going to ask if I can help carry the banners.”
She went over to find Mr. Hart. I was still feeling nervous. I didn’t like getting in front of people and doing . . . Well anything, really. I never would have made a good performer . . . But it was for a good cause, so I took a deep breath, clenched the Bible in one hand and the makeshift torch in the other, and got up on the float to stand under the little archway.
A couple minutes later the parade started and soon it was our float’s turn to move. Katie, and the Parkers’ older boys, James, Danny, and Michael, carried the two Pro-Life banners, one of them on each side. Thomas, Gregory, and Rose and Mary Parker had their buckets of candy ready, and Mom, Dad, and the other adults were going to walk alongside the float. Elena was riding with me. The hay bales kept her from wandering off. Mom pushed baby John in the stroller.
We started to go down Main Street. It felt so different to be standing up on the float, looking down at all the people sitting in their lawn chairs along the road. As the parade went on I started to have fun playing Lady Liberty and even waved to a few people we passed. It turned out to be an amazing experience a great way to represent and support the Pro-Life cause.