» This Story:Read +|Watch +| Comments

Get Local Alerts on Your Mobile Device

Text "LOCAL" to 98999 to get breaking news, traffic and weather alerts.

Even in Tough Times, Fourth of July Inspires

Hope, Celebration Charge Day's Events

Residents from across the Washington area partake in the festivities honoring the Independence Day holiday.
Discussion Policy
Comments that include profanity or personal attacks or other inappropriate comments or material will be removed from the site. Additionally, entries that are unsigned or contain "signatures" by someone other than the actual author will be removed. Finally, we will take steps to block users who violate any of our posting standards, terms of use or privacy policies or any other policies governing this site. Please review the full rules governing commentaries and discussions. You are fully responsible for the content that you post.
Washington Post Staff Writers
Sunday, July 5, 2009

Helen Ingallis marched through the Palisades section of Washington, waving an American flag for the first time in her 55 years. David and Laurie Souder staked out a spot on the Mall and shared a $9 plate of fried fish, celebrating on a budget. Vera Nathan and Shenevia Willingham sat at a table in a park in Southeast and lighted firecrackers, jobless but happy to be together.

This Story

Washingtonians gathered yesterday to celebrate Independence Day in a country transformed by recession, war and a shift in political winds, events that have affected their outlook on the nation's fate, and their own. Amid it all, residents everywhere and of all political persuasions paused to remember the simple pleasures of small-town parades, backyard barbecues and, on the Mall, the Washington Monument illuminated by fireworks.

Until yesterday, Ingallis had never wanted to wave an American flag. She felt that the country was too aggressive in its foreign policy, that its leaders were irrational and self-serving.

This year, adorned in patriotic red, white and blue, the District native paraded down the street with hundreds of others in the 43rd annual Palisades Parade, flag in hand.

"I feel like there is finally hope," said Ingallis, an art conservationist at the Smithsonian Institution.

As she waved her first flag on the streets of the Palisades, families of fallen warriors gathered at a Holiday Inn in Arlington County to accept "Honor and Remember" flags during a ceremony that was part of a weekend-long reunion for members of the 1st Battalion, 8th Marines.

Surviving Marines also gathered, about 80 of them, some still close-shaven, others wearing their hair long. They remembered their fallen: 21 young men, 17 of whom were killed in the 2004 battle for Fallujah, Iraq.

Karen Cox, whose husband served as the men's chaplain in Iraq, traveled from Japan to speak at the remembrance ceremony. She started by pointing out that hotel staff had provided a box of tissues for each row of chairs in the room.

"It's okay to let the tears fall," she said at the start of the ceremony, which was timed to coincide with Independence Day. "Don't fight it too hard."

In memory of Demarkus Brown. In memory of Nicholas Ziolkowski. In memory of Gentian Marku. One by one, the names rolled past.

Thomas Hodges, who was struck by shrapnel during the ambush in Fallujah that killed Marku at age 22, offered a flag to Marku's sister Joana and mother, Sate, and bent down to hug them.

After the ceremony, Joana and Sate sat outside on a bench. "It's great seeing my brother's friends, because I can kind of see him through them," said Joana Marku, 20.

CONTINUED     1           >

» This Story:Read +|Watch +| Comments

More in the Metro Section

Local Blog Directory

Find a Local Blog

Plug into the region's blogs, by location or area of interest.

Virginia Politics

Blog: Va. Politics

Here's a place to help you keep up with Virginia's overcaffeinated political culture.

D.C. Taxi Fares

D.C. Taxi Fares

Compare estimated zoned and metered D.C. taxi fares with this interactive calculator.

Facebook Twitter RSS
© 2009 The Washington Post Company