Happy July Fourth

Happy Birthday to the United States of America.  Hopefully you can have a good time without having politics intrude upon your July Fourth celebration.

But for many, politics is intertwined with this date and always will be.

History from the early years of the US show that July 4th celebrations were getting political not long after the country gained its independence.

Federalist and Anti-Federalist groups put July 4 to great use to argue for their beliefs in where the country should be heading.

Of course, those early battles did not occur here in Washington, D.C., because DC didn't really exist until Congress made it the Federal seat of power.

1801 was the first public July 4 celebration at the White House - which back then was still referred to as the "Executive Mansion."

Washingtonians today are of two minds about the holiday.  Many people do like to go down to the National Mall and rub shoulders with thousands of others and then watch the fireworks, while many families see it as mandatory.

It usually is a very good show....but all the crowds, the security, the heat and the humidity keep some of us long time DC residents back home.

I used to ride my bicycle down to the Mall to check things out and then would make my way back home just before sunset, with no traffic going out of the city at all.

Other times, we would gather on the Virginia side of the Potomac River and have the car gunned and ready to go, so that when the finale ended, you could drive like mad up the George Washington Parkway and beat the terrible traffic coming out of town.

I remember the controversy during the Reagan years, when then Interior Secretary James Watt caused an uproar by booting the Beach Boys from the big concert on July 4, 1983.

Watt though the band attracted the "wrong" element, so he brought in Wayne Newton instead.

That prompted a gigantic uproar and the Reagans stepped in to make sure the Beach Boys returned the next year.

One of my favorite memories of July 4 was flying back to Washington, D.C.  As we flew across the country, you could see small fireworks displays all over the place from the plane.

Enjoy your day, especially you federal employees, who didn't get July 4 as a paid holiday until 1941.

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