July 4th

Thinking about the 4th of July…………..AFTER

It is now several weeks since the 4th of July; the grills are once again cool, the fireworks have exploded and America’s celebration of her Birthday has come and gone. I thought about this because my Birthday is coming up in a few days and it caused me to think about what I saw and did on the 4th.
My lovely bride and I braved the heat to attend the National Parade down Constitution Avenue. Having never attended previously, I did not know what to expect. But all along the march route were thousands of eager faces, young and old. Many waving American flags.
Off in the distance, the flashing of red and blue lights heralded the start of the parade. Led by DC’s Metro Police Department on American-made Harley Davidson motorcycles!!!! The unique blat-blat-blat of a Harley is uniquely Americana. And of course, the Museum has its OWN Harley Davidson….a fully-restored 1942 WLA dispatch rider version, complete with scabbard for a Thompson submachine gun.
Next, came units from the Department of Defense. A band from the Joint Force Headquarters. Then sections from the Army, Navy, Air Force, and U.S. Marine Corps. All carried some form of battle rifle….whether an M-14, M-1 Garand, or 1903A3 Springfield. A large contingent from the U.S. National Park service rounded things out.
The nature and tenor of the parade completely changed. No more government elements. A High School band from Iowa marched by. Then a group of Sikh-Americans. More High School bands. Taiwan-Americans. Eight vintage Ford Mustangs. Miss Teen USA.
Then it hit me…..this was the right way to celebrate the birth of our great country. All these local elements, celebrating their heritage, but coming together to celebrate the greatest country in the world. Shouts of God Bless the USA echoed back and forth from parade participants and the crowd.
To seal the deal, later that night, we strolled down to the National Mall and watched the AMAZING National Fireworks display. The edifice of the Washington Monument loomed large in the foreground as mortar shell after shell lit up the night sky. As the first one’s fiery trail arced upward, the crowd hushed on its own as if it was one….but after that first starburst, the OOHs and AAHs echoed from the tree-lined path.
That is what celebrating the 4th is about. Take time to remember. Take time to come on out on 23 and 24 September for our Americans in Wartime Museum Open House and remember.

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