Parades of Interdependence

July Fourth Parade Lake Bluff 2008

They say everyone loves a parade. Do you?

I must be an exception to the rule because my first impulse is to avoid them. (I am an introvert, and like to interact with people one at a time in quiet settings.) Still, I have a pleasant memory of standing on a bridge with my family in Portland, Oregon, where we lived when I was in third grade. We were on that bridge in order to get a close view of the Rose Parade. I also turned out for one Mardi Gras parade during the two years I lived in Lake Charles, Louisiana. As Fat Tuesday celebrations go, this one was just my speed—clapping decorously, picking up a few pieces of candy and a handful of beads, & home by 9:00 p.m.

Images of 4th of July

Since becoming a parent and a Northfielder, I’ve begun to associate parades with the Midwestern summer—Fourth of July—and the end of summer—Defeat of Jesse James Days. And now,  parades seem to me a metaphor for civic participation: many different people (and pets) moving, with their own particular steps and personal styles toward a common goal.

Fourth of July Reinactors Lake Bluff

When I am feeling optimistic, I see parades as one expression of how we are all in this together. We all start out with a small circle and gradually, through the ebb and flow of life, discover new places, different people and ideas, and, underlying surface contrasts find commonalities that cross the borders of language and culture, age and sex, and all of the orientations toward any of the ‘isms’ that galvanize sub-groups. We are different but we walk through life side-by-side.

Fourth of July Indian Dancers

As I write this in 2013, the hope of meaningful immigration reform is gathering new solidity. At the same time, the sustainability of all our lives depends on creating new kinds of co-operation that cross all the boundaries laws and minds can construct. I am powerfully reminded as I look at these photos I have taken over the past ten years of how much we are share—an immigrant past (however recent or distant), a joy in life’s goodness, a cherishing of freedom to be who we are, and (perhaps) a love of parades, too.

Fence and Fireworks

Because photographs speak powerfully to me, I include this one of fireworks viewed through a chain link fence. As I look at it, I think of the many people who stand outside, yearning for the freedom we claim everyday as U.S. citizens.

July in My Eyes I

And because sonnets, compassion, and the State of Liberty are always in style, here is the sonnet that poet Emma Lazarus (July 22, 1849 to November 18, 1887) wrote in 1883 to help raise money to pay for the pedestal on which the Lady with the Lamp stands.

The New Colossus

Not like the brazen giant of Greek fame,
With conquering limbs astride from land to land;
Here at our sea-washed, sunset gates shall stand
A mighty woman with a torch, whose flame
Is the imprisoned lightening, and her name
Mother of Exiles. From her beacon-hand
Glows world-wide welcome; her mild eyes command
The air-bridged harbor that twin cities frame.
“Keep, ancient lands, your storied pomp!” cries she
With silent lips. “Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”

Emma Lazarus

(This poem is in the public domain.
In 1903, the lines were inscribed onto a bronze plaque
and attached at the base of the Statue of Liberty.)









(Special thanks to Carolyn Warden who introduced me to the tradition of the Lake Bluff, Illinois Fourth of July celebration, where I took many of these photographs!)

Other Notes:


It is officially summer, and despite continued wind and rain we’re rejoicing in the flowers blooming. Here are a couple of views from the front of our house. The bright yellow of the” buttercups” is a welcome stand-in for the sun on our many overcast hours. (One friend just asked for a cutting, and another just identified them as evening primrose!)


Buttercups 2013

Porch Pansies 2013



2 thoughts on “Parades of Interdependence

  1. Hi Beth,

    Thank you for your thoughtful observations. I have only seen the Statue of Liberty from the distance of the Newark airport! I hope in the next year or two to make a pilgrimage there and to Ellis Island. I know I had ancestors who entered the country through that gateway.


  2. Great photos, Leslie. I am a particular fan of the one just before the fireworks through the fence. (I’m so glad you explained that photo b/c I would have missed the fencing and that makes those fireworks particularly explosive) The man in the middle dancing with such freedom as the parade moves along is so joyful. I have been to the Statue of Liberty numerous times and have surely read that poem (and know the famous “give me your poor…) in its entirety but to read it here made it come alive in a different way. Thanks for reminding us of who we are!

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