July 4th is one of those annual events that generates a tremendous number of articles and blogs from professionals and amateurs alike. Most of their efforts inevitably include wise and patriotic quotes from the Founding Fathers with perhaps Jefferson at the top of the list. This is all good by the way. I am not sure I can really say anything that others have not already, so I choose a different approach this year.
My 4th of July experience included the USCG Pacific Strike Team, WWII tanks and planes, 100 Basset Hounds, a large garbage truck, and men marching with bathroom plungers. Novato, California is 20 miles north of the Golden Gate Bridge, in beautiful Marin County, just on the edge of wine country. Each year Novato has a good old fashioned home town Independence Day parade that I can best describe as a moving Norman Rockwell painting. The biggest parade in Marin, 20,000 people attend, leaving their lawn chairs and blankets on the parade route early in the morning while they attend the community pancake breakfast or participate in the foot races around town.
The USCG Pacific Strike Team is based in Novato, covering environmental disasters around the world and I have the privilege of marching with them as a member of the Coast Guard Auxiliary. This year their ranks were thinned by having many of them deployed to the Gulf of Mexico. The WWII tanks, almost airborne with balloons and carrying more kids than guns, are loaned by a local businessman who has spent millions restoring and maintaining them. As for the Bassett Hounds, they slumber along together each year, baying and barking, many of them riding in red American Flyer wagons pulled by their owners, a real crowd favorite. The big, green, noisy garbage truck was used in the movie Toy Story 3 and was instantly recognized by the kids. As for those marching plunger men, they all work for the local hardware store and manage to collide and fall down at just the right time for a good laugh.
We also had a Tea Party contingent, a Peace Group carrying paper cranes, Pearl Harbor Survivors and an 'only in Marin' group of mothers promoting public breast feeding. It was truly a birthday party, celebrating in the appropriate doses of silliness, irrelevance and somber thankfulness, who we are and how we got to be the greatest bastion of liberty on earth. Happy Birthday America, enjoy the party.