Independence Day in D.C.

By James Fallows

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.

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Bagpipes -- one of several such units.

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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!" 

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Representing our city, Miss DC-USA.

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One of the many fraternal orders in the parade. 

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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?"

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

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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.

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Boosters ready to hand out flags.

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

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Another.
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Another.
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Another.
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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.

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Male dancers from a popular Bolivian-American organization.

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Female dancers from the same group. On a sweltering day they danced nonstop along a several-mile course.
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Male and female dancers from another popular Bolivian-American club.

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

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

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This is why we are Americans. Enjoy your hotdogs, beer, and fireworks. 

This article available online at:

http://www.theatlantic.com/national/archive/2013/07/independence-day-in-dc/277540/