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Beat of the drum part of July Fourth celebrations

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As we celebrated another July 4, in this wonderful country of ours, we may have different feelings as to the meaning of independence, freedom and liberty. My ancestors were emigrants from Sweden and Norway, and it's hard to find anyone in our country who isn't a part of the melting pot of people who came to America's shores for a better life.

The first words of the Declaration of Independence, were perfect, "We the people" meant all of us, even though it took a hundred, or even 200 years to create a more perfect union, our forefathers were imagining. But our society still isn't perfect, and we as Americans are still striving to make the dream come true, of equality, beyond the color of a person's skin, our sex, religion or ethnic background.

As someone who lives on a lake, just a mile or two from the Leech Lake Reservation's Veterans Memorial Powwow Grounds, I have come to love the sounds of the drums, as they play all weekend, non-stop, on July 4. About 15 years ago, as I was bed-ridden and recovering from some back operations, I listened to the drums, day and night, as the sound traveled easily across the lake, and through my open window. I wrote this poem in honor of my neighbors, and friends, in the Cass Lake area, who have known a harsher reality to the freedoms maybe I have taken for granted, in my life.

The Drum

I listen to the Drum

Beating like my heart in the distance.

Tomorrow is the 4th of July

Independence Day, for a white American, like me.

But I live on an Indian reservation

A proud place of the Ojibwe people, of yesterday and today.

Tomorrow is the 4th of July

And I listen to the Drum

That has been beating for days

Even in my sleep, it's there

Like the beating of my heart.

Tomorrow is the 4th of July

And the Drum I hear

Is like the beating heart of my Indian neighbor

Who has known more obstacles to freedom than I.

I listen to the Drum

Beating like a heart in the distance,

It's meaning is in the hearts

Of the people who truly listen, to the Drum.

Terry Larson

Cass Lake

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