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Cavalcade of Americana

There was a goodly crowd, as always, for the Fourth of July parade in Towson, and I was happy to join it to witness evidences of the health of the Republic.

They have everything in the Towson parade. The governor rides past, and the lieutenant governor, and two United States senators, a congressman, various public officials, and the Oscar Mayer Wienermobile. The pipe bands were impressive—people just don’t get enough bagpipe music—and the Ravens marching band was stunning—I counted eighteen Sousaphones. Lots of small children on bicycles and scooters, and lots of older people in antique cars. Scouts of several stripes. Fire engines.

The entrepreneurial spirit was represented not only by vendors of kitschy patriotic items, but by the young people of Trinity Episcopal Church (where my wife works), who rent out spaces in the church parking lot for a modest $5 each to fund their programs. They also sold soda to the thirsty throngs, and there the Christian redistributionist principle went into operation: Parishioners donate the soda and then buy it back.

Trinity also holds fast to its tradition of a brief service before the parade, followed by the ringing of the church bell one time for each year of the Republic. It would have been rung 235 times this year if someone hadn’t lost count, but everyone was confident that many years were represented, and no one sought further tolling.

People in Towson know how to behave. They stand as the colors pass, and the men uncover. They applaud politely, sometimes vigorously. They cheer their favorites, like the Orioles mascot. And they have more stamina than I do. Even though cloud cover kept the heat down to the 80s, I packed it in after an hour and a half, no doubt forgoing many further delights, but confident that we the people continue to be a going concern.



Posted by John McIntyre at 10:46 PM | | Comments (1)


Being out West here and all, I attended a parade that was led off my a phalanx of rodeo queens riding horses and holding aloft American flags (and in the rear-ward ranks, flags advertising local businesses). The horses' flanks had been dusted with red, white, and blue glitter. This was in a modest-sized town, and it seemed almost as if half the town was lining the street to watch the other half parade.

As the flags passed, I heard one woman hiss to her companion that the people who'd planted themselves in lawn chairs along the route should stand, that this was the flag passing by. While I am normally skeptical of knee-jerk shows of allegiance, I did have to agree with her.

Perhaps one (benign) definition of patriotism is that one can enjoy -- indeed, one can be verklempt by -- the kind of unaffected pride that marches down the street during a Fourth of July parade. From rodeo queens to logging trucks to the K-9 clubs from the local 4-H, it was all great, and it was all American.

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About John McIntyre
John McIntyre, mild-mannered editor for a great metropolitan newspaper, has fussed over writers’ work, to sporadic expressions of gratitude, for thirty years. He is The Sun’s night content production manager and former head of its copy desk. He also teaches editing at Loyola University Maryland. A former president of the American Copy Editors Society, a native of Kentucky, a graduate of Michigan State and Syracuse, and a moderate prescriptivist, he writes about language, journalism, and arbitrarily chosen topics. If you are inspired by a spirit of contradiction, comment on the posts or write to him at
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