Independence Day in D.C.

Snapshots of modern America

The best thing about the Palisades-MacArthur neighborhood in DC is the annual Fourth of July parade down MacArthur Boulevard. I offer today's snapshots as part of the long "the way we live now" chronicles. Also, with the sense that if a Tocqueville, a Frances Trollope, a Charles Dickens, or some other outside observer happened upon such a spectacle, he or she would marvel at the easy communal patriotism on display, the wide/wild variety of civic organizations (one of Tocqueville's big themes), and the amazing absorptive capacity of American life. Not to mention: this is a different face of DC from the one familiar via West Wing, Veep, House of Cards, cable TV generally, most political speeches, or even This Town, whose overall outlook I naturally sympathize with. Here we go:

Motorcycle cops to lead things off.


Bagpipes -- one of several such units.


Lead marchers for "Different Drummers," a LGBT marching band and drill team. This lead pair holding the sign, one with a rainbow-flag cape, kept chanting, "Now we're married -- just like you!" 


Representing our city, Miss DC-USA.


One of the many fraternal orders in the parade. 


More from the same group. I couldn't read the banner and thought I shouldn't yell, "Who are you, and what about these white capes?"


Van from the Bomb Squad. Most frequent comment from the crowd: "We have a 'Bomb Squad'??? "


The mayor and most city council people showed up, with boosters. This is council member David Catania (with dog). Boosters of another member, Mary Cheh, are in the previous picture.


Boosters ready to hand out flags.


One of a very large number of groups protesting DC's indefensible "taxation without representation" status.





Seriously: this is unfair. Maybe you don't like your Senators or Representative, but at least you have some to complain about.

A Burmese contingent.


Male dancers from a popular Bolivian-American organization.


Female dancers from the same group. On a sweltering day they danced nonstop along a several-mile course.

Male and female dancers from another popular Bolivian-American club.


The "Wong People" kung fu group -- its Chinese name means "Clan of Wong."


In their traditional place anchoring the parade, riders from the United Horsemen's Association. Click on the photo for more detailed view.


This is why we are Americans. Enjoy your hotdogs, beer, and fireworks. 
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James Fallows is a national correspondent for The Atlantic and has written for the magazine since the late 1970s. He has reported extensively from outside the United States and once worked as President Carter's chief speechwriter. His latest book is China Airborne. More

James Fallows is based in Washington as a national correspondent for The Atlantic. He has worked for the magazine for nearly 30 years and in that time has also lived in Seattle, Berkeley, Austin, Tokyo, Kuala Lumpur, Shanghai, and Beijing. He was raised in Redlands, California, received his undergraduate degree in American history and literature from Harvard, and received a graduate degree in economics from Oxford as a Rhodes scholar. In addition to working for The Atlantic, he has spent two years as chief White House speechwriter for Jimmy Carter, two years as the editor of US News & World Report, and six months as a program designer at Microsoft. He is an instrument-rated private pilot. He is also now the chair in U.S. media at the U.S. Studies Centre at the University of Sydney, in Australia.

Fallows has been a finalist for the National Magazine Award five times and has won once; he has also won the American Book Award for nonfiction and a N.Y. Emmy award for the documentary series Doing Business in China. He was the founding chairman of the New America Foundation. His recent books Blind Into Baghdad (2006) and Postcards From Tomorrow Square (2009) are based on his writings for The Atlantic. His latest book is China Airborne. He is married to Deborah Fallows, author of the recent book Dreaming in Chinese. They have two married sons.

Fallows welcomes and frequently quotes from reader mail sent via the "Email" button below. Unless you specify otherwise, we consider any incoming mail available for possible quotation -- but not with the sender's real name unless you explicitly state that it may be used. If you are wondering why Fallows does not use a "Comments" field below his posts, please see previous explanations here and here.


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