How We Celebrate the Fourth of July in Washington

It’s the Fourth of July, as American as apple pie or Google, as we celebrate our country, our traditions, the way we live, eat, pray and love, march in parades, raise our children and pets, play and dance and sing our songs old and new.

In any parade, you’ll see soldiers, the drummer boy, the fife player, the revolutionary soldier with his rifle and bandaged head and faux Jeffersons, Franklins and Washingtons, heading for the park or the backyard and the barbecue and fireworks, if they haven’t been cancelled due to the sequester or the daily rain storms. We’ll look to the night skies on the National Mall, look out for squalls and bad weather and think of the Founding Fathers.

Those fathers might recognize themselves in a parade but have a little more trouble recognizing their surroundings. In Washington, D.C., they would hear echoes of the cannon fire from Gettysburg but also the noises and murmurs of our political battles from DOMA to the Capitol Dome, the shadows of big government and the foibles of small government. Today, we worry about immigration—whom to let in, how to keep them from coming or bring them to citizenship, a question asked in small towns and argued in the shadow of the Statue of Liberty.

It’s the Fourth of July—sodas and crackerjacks, and heroes dead in forest fires amid horrible heat. It’s baseball and spying, by the government of this nation and other governments, while in the Middle East, thousands are demonstrating for freedom. We will watch Harper and Zimmerman and zombies this Fourth of July and celebrate ourselves in the Whitman manner, when he was celebrating not just himself but ourselves. We will again come to the National Mall by the thousands with Lincoln perched on his timeless chair, watching, it seems sometimes wistfully.

It is the Fourth of July, a Thursday like no other Thursday in 2013 in the capital city of Washington where we live in the world.

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Sat, 30 Aug 2014 12:14:47 -0400

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