Memorial Day has long meant a day of reflection, a day of remembrance, a day for giving thanks to those who have defended our ideals and independence.
I used the day as a rare opportunity to just see a bit more of our great land. A plan-less, meandering drive through the countryside. A respite at a remote lake to wet the toes, an open car window to hear the birds, a shared wave with an old fellow on his riding lawn mower. You know, the good stuff.
The sunshine and fresh air were doing wonders. After a couple of hours, a stop for a cold beer.
I really just let the car take me wherever seemed new. I drove on roads I’d never been on, winding through lakes country and eventually finding myself along a familiar stretch south of Detroit Lakes.
And what I found on the south-facing deck of the Holiday Inn on the north shore of Detroit Lake was what the day was all about.
A perfect day. Temps in the 80s, a slight breeze … and peace.
A young couple was showing their toddler a sand beach for presumably the first time. He pressed his bare feet into the sand, then smiled back at mom. He was discovering the texture of the warm sand atop the cool sand underneath.
A man was walking his adventurous poodle, who kept tugging forward to smell new scents, panting as it forged ahead.
And then I noticed the pontoon boats.
Directly in front of me was one populated with Bud Light drinkers, a couple of cowboy hats, a few kids.
The next pontoon was a rental. A group of Muslims, the females in burkas, slowly and carefully loaded onto their craft. The rental agent instructed the basics to the man who would be the captain. Then they were off, slowly navigating to avoid any other boats.
The furthest pontoon boldly displayed its rainbow flag. They were out onto the lake not much later.
After arriving back on shore within an hour, the children from the pontooners played as one in the shallow water.
Should such a scene be remarkable? No. Would it be remarkable somewhere else? Unfortunately, yes.
It appeared to me that for one afternoon on the north shore of Detroit Lake, there were no cultural divides, there was no bigotry and no outward fear of those who are different.
To me, it just seemed like freedom. Where all men and women are created equal.