Without fail, every time I hear the deep bass thrum of the drum line, I can feel my pulse speed up and a trill of excitement courses through me.
I love the energy, I love the excitement, I love the showmanship and the music, I love the horses, I love the guys in little cars, and I especially love the cheering of the crowd.
It may sound cheesy, but listening to a band play the Star Spangled Banner makes me tear up every time.
It's a reminder to take a moment and be grateful that we live in a country like this.
One where no matter how much you agree or disagree with the current crop of politicians, you have the right to openly voice your opinions without fearing retribution from the government.
One where every citizen over 18 has the right to vote, regardless of sex, race, or any other reason. And where generations have passionately fought for our RIGHT to vote. As a woman, this right is especially poignant to me.
A nation where you can practice almost any religion you choose, or choose to practice none at all.
It's a reminder to be grateful for our armed forces, past and present, because it was their sacrifices that originally won this nation for us, and their ongoing sacrifices that continue to protect it for us.
Our nation is built on generations of sacrifice, time after time we have fought to provide an environment for those with a vision to excel. It is because of this that our nation is such a fertile ground for visionaries, people like Abraham Lincoln, Amelia Earhardt, Susan B. Anthony, Martin Luther King Jr., Bill Gates.
America is one of those rare places where if an individual has the focus, the persistence, and the determination, they can achieve almost anything.
That is why the Star Spangled Banner moves me.
It stands for all the reasons I am grateful to raise children in this beautiful nation of ours.
And I was thrilled to see my girl shared my sentiments when we went to her first parade this weekend. She clapped and waved the entire way through.
She danced to the music and neighed at the horses and laughed when the muskets went off.
We had a wonderful time, sweating in the sultry heat of a Maryland summer.
When the parade was over, we went to enjoy the rest of the festival. I could still hear the music playing in the back of my mind, and it added an extra bounce to my walk. It was so special to be able to share a memory like this with my babies.
And more than anything else, it reminded me that Memorial Day is a day for celebration rather than a day for mourning. It is a day to rejoice in our troops, both those alive and those gone. It is a celebration of their sacrifices, and a celebration that we live this moment, this day, in a country like this.
So take the time today to celebrate our troops and be extra grateful for everything that their sacrifices have achieved.