Fresh from taking a friend from Germany to our local Fourth of July parade, the first he'd ever seen –
Our friend was amazed, and he knew the U.S. well. I was taken by surprise to realize that the Fourth of July parade isn’t just natural and inevitable, but instead is a particular product of our particular culture. In our town, the parade is one part politics, from socialist to pro-life; another part expert marching bands, from a bunch of different cultures; still another part a display of town government’s big machines (with horns!) such as fire trucks; yet another part sheer commercial display, with floats from businesses around town; and of course antique cars (some younger than me, unfortunately) and Elvis. It might be summed up as one example after another of people promoting themselves and their causes and companies.
And yet this long display of boosterism is actually fun, and comfortable, and communal. We Americans apparently possess a secret of alchemy, the ability to transmute showing off into sharing. From showmanship, solidarity! From the many, one!