July 4 parade not for political statements
It was a beautiful day for a parade in Ann Arbor celebrating our nation's birthday on July 4. At the finish was a gentleman carrying a sign saying "The End.'' Unfortunately, some felt the need to piggy back after the end and spout political statements not fitting for family entertainment. One sign, in particular, had a bloody reference that was not "parade worthy.'' I urge the sponsors to monitor for such unauthorized entries.
To Ann Sutherland, in response to your July 11 letter to the editor:
I was one of the six people that "piggybacked'' at the end of the Ann Arbor 4th of July parade. When the man with the sign saying "The End'' went by, that signaled the end of the parade, thus turning Liberty Street back into a public road - a road that you don't need to be authorized to walk on. But I'm not sure what parade you attended, because not one of the six people walking were "spouting political statements.'' We walked in silence 10 feet back from the "official'' parade. The only time any of us said anything was to say thank you to all the thumbs ups and clapping we received.
As for the two signs that were held up, one said "End Corporate Warfare'' the other said "Trillions Would Be Better Spent On Peace.'' As for the "bloody reference'' sign, it was a cartoon depicting George Bush as a vampire. To me, war and occupation are not "fitting for family entertainment'' or "parade worthy.'' I can only hope that you would join us, because your child is next in line to die in an endless war that has more to do with profits and control than it has to do with freedom or democracy.
Parade offered chance for patriotic expression
In the 21 years I've lived in Ann Arbor, I've missed very few of the Fourth of July parades. I'll admit that I have enjoyed them mostly as slightly hokey entertainment - the juxtaposition of the drum and fife corps, Mothers of Multiples, politicians, peaceniks and Shriners showcase the funky small-town heart of Ann Arbor.
This year, I decided that I needed to mark our country's birthday in a more deliberate way. I allowed myself to cheer on the usual members of the parade from my favorite vantage point. Then, when the signal for the end of the parade went by, I joined the procession in silence.
I carried a U.S. flag affixed upside down to a pole, a symbol of the distress in which our country and its Constitution struggle these days. I wore a T-shirt with a picture of George W. Bush and the caption "Worst President Ever.''
Many of the people I passed clapped and shouted words of encouragement. I want to thank those folks for appreciating what was a thoughtful exercise in free speech in celebration of our country's founding.
A few people became angry. I want to remind those people that there have always been political and military elements to Ann Arbor's parade (e.g., campaigning politicians, jet fighters buzzing the route, etc.), and that, in the words of Mark Twain, "Patriotism is supporting your country all the time, and your government when it deserves it.''