Over the July 4th weekend, I participated in the Purcellville and Leesburg Independence Day parades. Both were well-attended events. Thousands of people lined the parade routes outfitted in patriotic attire that reflected every combination of Red, White, and Blue. Families – children, parents, and grandparents; couples and clutches of friends and neighbors cheered for first responders, kid’s sports teams, dancers, drum corps, local businesses, community leaders, and politicians.
As a first-time candidate for office, I’d be lying if I said that I wasn’t a little concerned about what the crowd’s mood might be like – more than one person suggested that I should anticipate strident, unhappy voices. From my vantage point, however, the entire atmosphere was genuinely festive, respectful, and profoundly patriotic. The good people of Purcellville, Leesburg and the surrounding areas could not have been more gracious or friendly. In fact, at the end of one of the parades, a woman stood in her yard waving a flag and called out, “I belong to the other party, but I still want to wish you a very happy Independence Day!”
That moment reminded me of an earlier time when we didn’t doubt a person’s American-ness, or patriotism, or love of country. Perhaps the patriotic fervor that I felt around me was merely the result of people who were happy to rekindle old traditions. Perhaps people were tacitly celebrating the fact that vaccines have positioned us to grasp normalcy and potentially begin putting Covid-19 in the rear-view mirror. Or perhaps we were simply happy to enjoy a beautiful weekend with each other; proud Americans, blessed to live in the greatest nation ever conceived.
For two consecutive days, I got to observe an Independence Day parade from the inside out. I didn’t see people lining the parade routes as Democrats, Republicans, or Independents, but as hopeful Americans who care about where they live. As much as we may have occasion to disagree, we must remember that America was built on the hopes and dreams of our forefathers - not upon their fears. Here’s wishing that what I observed this July 4th is another sign for a more hopeful time in our communities, our country, and our politics.