As Candice and I were walking back from today’s July 4th parade in Takoma Park, we overheard two women—both wearing an “I Care Do U” sticker—talking about the diversity seen in this progressive enclave from the participants of this most all-American of holidays.

There’s your medical marijuana advocates, Christian evangelicals, 9/11 truthers, Republican and Democratic candidates for county executive, the First Panamanian Marching Band of Maryland, Doggie Washerette, the MAGA (Mobsters are Governing America) PAC, all the public works vehicles (love the lawn mower guy spinning around in circles), Boy and Girl Scouts, the Intergalactic Female Motorcycle Federation, the Silver Spring Yacht Club, and the Takoma Park Lesbians and Gays all mixed together.

And don’t forget about the Reel Mower Precision Drill Team.

Keep It Reel

The Takoma Park Reel Mower Precision Drill Team “Keeping It Reel”

There’s a lot of chatter in the right wing entertainment universe these days about political correctness shutting down free speech.  But today’s experience in Takoma Park shows that this narrative about the progressives not hearing from different voices isn’t necessarily true.  Everyone had their say, everyone was treated with respect (if some were treated a bit more enthusiastically than others), and it all happened in a celebratory, civil, and often humorous way.

MAGA meets Takoma Park

MAGA meets Takoma Park

I was thinking about this as I read Dana Milbank’s column in today’s Washington Post about the battle for freedom. Milbank notes that “Every 75 years or so in our history, Americans have renewed their commitment to freedom.” The first time was our Civil War.  That was followed some 75 years later by our emergence from the Great Depression and the entrance into WWII.  Now, we are just past 75 years from that fight, and Milbank notes that much of the country now fears the loss of basic freedoms as Americans.  In a call for us to rededicate ourselves to freedom, he includes:

“Freedom from…constant attacks on women, immigrants, people of color, gay people and Muslims.

Freedom to work and live without discrimination, harassment and violence because of your gender, race or religion.

Freedom to get medical care when you or your children are sick.

Freedom to earn a living wage, to attend college or get job training, and to retire in security.

Freedom from a rigged economy in which the top 1 percent own more than the bottom 90 percent combined.

Freedom to marry whom you choose.

Freedom to make decisions about your own body.

Freedom to send your kids to school without fear for their safety.

Freedom to breathe clean air, to drink clean water, to live on a habitable planet.

Freedom to elect your leaders without the rich, or foreign governments, choosing them for you.

And freedom to speak, to protest and to publish without the threat of violence.”

We’ve never been the country we—or our founders—imagined us to be.  But we can be dedicated to freedom and continue to push toward the type of country we hope to be.

Only in Takoma Park

Celebrating – and fighting for – freedom in Takoma Park

Happy July 4th.

More to come…



A Weekend (and More) of Celebration

Friends of Elvis at July 4th parade in Takoma Park 2014A pre-July 4th visit to Mount Rushmore, the annual craziness that is the Takoma Park July 4th parade, our traditional Independence Day picnic at the wonderful Franklin Knolls pool, Claire returns after six weeks in Vienna, Andrew knocks it out of the park with a National Anthem, Dad turns 89, and two days with dear friends to celebrate a 50th wedding anniversary and an 80th birthday…I can’t imagine a better July 4th weekend (and a bit more).

My celebration of things Americana began last week.  While on a work trip, a colleague and I took a short detour in the Black Hills of South Dakota to visit Mt. Rushmore.

It was my first trip there, and the monument is as awe-inspiring as advertised.

I took the expected pictures of the monument – from the front, with the state flags, and from the perspective down at the sculptor’s studio.

Then I did something out of character – and took my very first selfie.  I was actually pretty pleased that I knew how to do it – so pleased in fact that I quickly emailed a copy to Andrew, Claire, and Candice.  My colleague got a big kick out of this, and promptly took a picture of me taking a selfie!  Great fun.

Mt. Rushmore, June 25, 2014

Rushmore Slefie 06 25 14

Rushmore selfie in progress 06 25 14

When July 4th actually arrived, we began as we always do…sitting along Maple Street in Takoma Park watching the quirkiest Independence Day parade in the Washington region.  As you can see from the photo at the top, this year we had the “Friends of Elvis” in the parade.  (The guy on the right is a regular at the Silver Spring farmers market on Saturday mornings.)  But the float I really wanted to see was a first time entrant:  the Takoma Park Kinetic Sculpture Racing Team!

Kinetic Sculpture Racing Team July 4, 2014

As you can see, Good Dog did not disappoint!

We then joined long-time friends for a picnic at our old neighborhood pool – Franklin Knolls – for the annual July 4th cookout.  With our traditional dish of deviled eggs in hand, it felt great to be back with friends in a wonderful setting.

Then our day changed, as we headed to the airport to pick up Claire, who was returning from six weeks of study abroad.  We’ve all missed her and the reunion was joyous.  Of course, she came home, took a shower, and then headed out with Andrew to her close friend’s July 4th party and fireworks at the Georgetown waterfront.  As she said in the caption to this photo, what could be a more American homecoming than beer and mac & cheese on the 4th of July!

Claire's American Homecoming July 4th, 2014

The next day, Andrew was asked by friends at Franklin Knolls to sing the national anthem before the final home swim meet of the season.  As you can see in the video below, he nailed it!  We chatted with friends, saluted the swim team seniors, and then headed out for the weekend’s final celebration(s).

While driving to West Virginia, we called my Dad who celebrated his 89th birthday on July 5th.  It was great to hear that he was doing well – and that he was already one-third of the way through the book we’d sent along as a present.  (I know my father!)

Candice and I were on our way to Parkersburg, WV, for a very special celebration. Two dear friends from our time in Staunton – Katharine and Madison Brown – were celebrating their 50th wedding anniversary along with Madison’s 80th birthday.

Brown's 50th Wedding Anniversary Celebration - July 5, 2014

It was great to join their family and a lifetime of friends to celebrate.  Katharine is Claire’s godmother, and we’ve enjoyed their friendship since we both moved to Staunton about the same time in the early 1980s.  We also had a blast touring their beautiful family home (now in 5th generation ownership) and taking the Julia-Ann Historic District walking tour (co-edited by Katharine) on a picture perfect summer day.

Katharine and Madison's House in Parkersburg

We have much to celebrate this July 4th weekend…and we’ll wrap it up with Andrew’s version of the national anthem.  Enjoy!

More to come…