From where I stood July 4, 1976, was stunning. Where I stood was on the bow of the Norwegian tall ship Christian Radich as it entered New York harbor for the Bicentennial Op Sail.

With fireboats heralding our arrival--spraying long, rainbow arcs of water that seemed to me like pennies from heaven--we began the parade of sail, passing underneath the Verrazano Bridge.

All I could hear was music. Never in my life had I heard so much music.

All I could see was people. Never in my life had I seen so many people. Hundreds of thousands--maybe millions--of people lining both sides of the Hudson. On the Jersey side dug into the cliffs of the Palisades. On the Manhattan side stuck to the windows of the skyscrapers like sprinkles on ice cream. So many of them waving. And smiling. I could actually see them smiling. Never in my life had I seen so many people waving and smiling. So I waved and smiled back.

So caught up in the reverie--every sound was a symphony--that I forgot that as a reporter I was supposed to record the impressions of other people, I began recording my own. Rarely in my life had I considered myself patriotic, yet on this July 4, with the sky so very clean and blue, with the music playing and the people smiling and waving, tears of joy streamed down my face as we sailed by the Statue of Liberty, and I heard myself singing--actually singing out loud--"America, America, God shed his grace on thee."

And even now, remembering it, I cheer.