Warning: This is a ridiculously picture heavy post to accommodate the thousand dogs, children, and trucks seen at the Corte Madera Fourth of July parade. Just... scroll fast? I don't know. It's cute! "America isn't easy. America is advanced citizenship. You've gotta want it bad, 'cause it's gonna put up a fight. It's gonna say, 'You want free speech? Let's see you acknowledge a man whose words make your blood boil, who's standing center stage and advocating at the top of his lungs that which you would spend a lifetime opposing at the top of yours.' You want to claim this land as the land of the free? Then the symbol of your country cannot just be a flag. The symbol also has to be one of its citizens exercising his right to burn that flag in protest. Now show me that, defend that, celebrate that in your classrooms. Then you can stand up and sing about the land of the free." - The American President
I never think about whether or not I love America - like other things taken for granted in this fast-paced life, that question gets lost in the shuffle of "well, it's my country, of course I like it." And I know for a fact that I take many of my rights and privileges for granted, not even noticing how differently I am treated here than I would be anywhere else in the world (except maybe for Canada) until a news story pops up that stops me in my tracks. Why wouldn't women get to go to school? Why wouldn't it be safe to try to better yourself? Why shouldn't people be able to watch the World Cup in peace? America has kept me blissfully sheltered from most of these atrocities, for better and for worse.
I don't agree with everything this country has done or stood for - I have major problems with the direction it is taking now with respect to minorities, women, and the LGBT population, for instance. I can't believe we're in 2014 and these three groups are not only treated without the respect and equality they (we) deserve, but that more and more divisions are being made amongst our citizenry. I have huge issues with that, and I look forward to being part of the change.
But I also think our country can do better. Say what you want about the (perhaps naively) hopeful tone of Aaron Sorkin's The West Wing, but I have faith that we can get there, to politics like that, to leaders like that all over our country. That our politicians can do better if we make them; that our people can do better if we teach them. We have to form this country we love so much into its true self: to return to the ideals set out in the beginning, to accept those with nowhere to go, and to shelter its population from tyranny - even tyranny on its own soil, by its own people. We can do better, and we will do better - because one thing you can never break is the American spirit. And we all have that in us, just by virtue of being here.
I love my country, and I loved celebrating it this year...even if we still have a long way to go.
Now, on to the parade...!
First, BigT and I had to descend to the "downtown" area via these adorable public stairways.
The parade was clearly not starting for a little while, so we walked through downtown to an art festival being held on a field nearby.
There were tons, and tons, and tons of people lined up for the parade. I was in awe - looking every which way, trying to snap pictures of the scene without making parents uncomfortable. There were so many cute kid pictures I didn't take, let me tell you. I have never before felt that small-town vibe, and it was quite comforting, actually. It was nice to know that even in the hustle and bustle, there are still communities, that people still take time out of their day to come together and watch a parade before racing off to their BBQs and fireworks displays.
The most adorable part of the entire parade is that people had started setting up chairs on Thursday afternoon to save their spots... and no one stole them! Well, I assume.
When the parade finally started, the very first "floats" were trucks. Lots of trucks.
Then, the sports teams arrived...!
I swear there must be fifteen little league teams within this five square mile area. Goodness. They were cute though!
I call this one the Razor Brigade:
At one point, I noticed just how many dogs were in the parade, and it was adorable.
(can you see the pug below?)
Sure, we'll include these school mascots too.
I don't even know if this guy was officially part of the festivities, but he was having a grand old time, so even if he wasn't "legit" we'll just let him have his moment...
Next up? The bands.
They had (mercifully) spaced these out, by the way - I'm doing some chronological rearranging for your reading pleasure. The actual parade was very well organized!
There were some "miscellaneous kids activities" groups that were fun to see, like this troupe of taekwondo-ers!
And these rowers, who started looking a little cranky after a while. Teenagers!
There was even a float for Christmas Tree Hill (so named because the houses on the hill, when lit at night, make it look like... well, you get the idea.)
Around this point, BigT was really ready to go home, but he stuck it out for the sake of my pictures. What a trooper.
Then comes the part that... well, I'm just not sure how I feel about this. There were a lot of (a lot more than pictured) historical trucks from WWII. I appreciate the sacrifice that veterans have made for us, and that current soldiers and military families make for us everyday, but for some reason I just don't know if this glorifies the image of war without providing a context for younger people to understand how horrible actual war is?
Then again, maybe that's not up to me to decide - maybe it's for the people who fought in those wars and who are still in foreign lands fighting for America's safety to determine how war and history around wars is framed. The trouble is, most soldiers don't even get to decide this framework either.
And, there's also something that just troubles me about seeing a child in a soldier's helmet.
(That said, I thank all of our troops and veterans for their service and for their sacrifices, from the bottom of my heart.)
There was also a group who were protesting the dolphin killings in Japan:
A historic cable car:
AND, the man who originally founded/created/organized/whatevered Critical Mass in SF showed up! He's the one in the cowboy hat (according to a man in gossamer fairy wings giving us the scoop):
The Marin Airporter (which I've taken several times!) brought up the rear, and we trudged back up the steps to my parents house on the hill.
...where I spent an hour poking tiny patriotic toothpicks into mozzarella-tomato-basil bites for our family picnic!
It was worth every minute spent though - we got to meet my cousin's fiancée Stephanie (a total sweetheart - looking forward to having her at more family gatherings!) and learn how to play croquet. I was doing pretty well until this "poison" thing kicked in and the guy who was teaching us all knocked about 3 of us out in ten minutes. Whoops.
Sounds confusing? Good. It's confusing. Croquet is not for the faint of heart.
...And a great Fourth of July was had by all!