As I watched the July 4th parade in
In fact, July 4 is the birthday of our country, and birthdays should be fun. Besides, as Mark Davis has noted, there's a big difference between "the state," and "our country" - the former a government and system that has done us great harm and the latter a place where our common story has unfolded. A place and a story we can love without having it inculcated or foisted upon us.
One reason we have such a hard time seeing this is because those at the top use the Fourth of July for their own purposes, leaving us with the choice of being either pompously nationalistic or perpetually grumpy.
You have to go to a place like
How does it happen that such places can have July 4 celebrations that anyone, regardless of their politics, can enjoy?
In part because they are a celebration of a community within a land. On the fourth of July, in such places, all patriotism becomes local.
Here’s how the Providence Journal described the
"The Shriners were back in their funny cars and funnier costumes. There were not one, but two of the Red Sox’ World Series trophies. Polished marching bands strutted their stuff. And then there was Buddy.
In a parade with hundreds of participants that stretched over four hours, it was hard for anyone to steal the show. But former Providence Mayor Vincent A. "Buddy" Cianci Jr. came close. Cianci had been a virtual fixture in the parade since 1974, when he was first elected mayor of the capital city, until he was convicted of federal racketeering conspiracy in 2002 and sentenced to a five-year prison term. This was his first time back, and his return whipped the crowd into a frenzy.
Kim Madden, of
Twenty-four performing groups and 20 floats took part in the parade. They included a Johnny Depp look-alike dressed as the Pirates of the Caribbean star, marching bands from
Corny perhaps, excessive loyalty perhaps to corrupt ex-mayors with their own marinara brand, but hardly what fascism is made of.
If you had gone to the
The other major symbol of
There was also a giant LL Bean boot on a trailer, a minibus filled with Freeport elders led by an aged gentleman on an electric cart and, reported the Portland Press Herald, "The award for best neighborhood float went to the East Freeport Oar House, an elaborately costumed, if somewhat unrefined drill team, armed with oars and salty spirit. The trophy seemed appropriate - a 1922 Bates Manufacturing bowling trophy, picked up for $8 at a yard sale."
This is what happened in two small towns this July 4. Just a few of the places that still remember what America is really about - beginning with their own communities, their own people and their own stories. From volunteer fire departments to a corrupt mayor that many still loved and still have the right to say so.
This is a story our national media and national politicians don't tell. The right is busy ripping off the story for its own cynical ends, while a mostly urban left at best treats it as quaint and silly, at worst dastardly mind manipulation. And the media, unable to handle something that happens in so many places on the same day, blends it into a nationalistic myth.
The answer may lie in turning off your television next July 4th, avoiding any speeches, and finding the nearest small town parade. You could find yourself feeling good about