Chris Harnden: Fourth of July unifies | SteamboatToday.com

Chris Harnden: Fourth of July unifies

Like many people, my wife and I arrived early to claim a spot for the evening's firework show. The smell of the day's sunscreen and bug spray filled the air as the relatively open space began to fill to capacity. Sitting there in the dark, the anticipation for the first explosion was palpable. And then it started. The sky erupted into a dazzling canvas of color. "Ooos" and "ahhs" occupied the space between the detonations that could be felt deep in the chests of all watching.

And through it all — through the fiery explosions, through the sounds of the crowd, through the booming echoes of the valley — one idea began to manifest: unity. The multitudes gathered downtown that evening were there for one purpose: To celebrate the history and spirit of this American nation. From the group of 20-somethings festooned in red, white and blue glow-sticks to the grandparents visiting from out of town, I felt a connection to those around me. Male or female, young or old, conservative or liberal, I experienced a moment of shared love and gratitude that transcended more trivial distinctions. We are Americans. I came that night for a fireworks show, and in all honesty, worried if the traffic after the show was going to be worth the hassle, but there, in the rockets' red glare and with bombs bursting in air, I was reminded of the freedoms I so often take for granted.

Thank you to Yampa Valley Bank and everyone else who had a hand in this year's fireworks show. Your efforts make possible an incredible opportunity for locals, travelers, friends and family alike to come together for one evening of celebration: the celebration of our country, our freedoms and the sacrifices that have made it possible.

I feel truly blessed to call Steamboat home and am proud to call Yampa Valley Bank my bank.

Chris Harnden