Lafayette Park is open again, the outer barriers to the White House are gone and all that remains is the main fence. Tourists are leaning up to it, taking photos. Anti-war and pro-weed protesters are around here doing their thing. Feels like the before time. pic.twitter.com/MyLAS5fI6z
— Sahil Kapur (@sahilkapur) July 4, 2021
President Biden: "Now I truly believe — I give my word as a Biden — I truly believe we are about to see our brightest future."
— Kyle Griffin (@kylegriffin1) July 5, 2021
Jennifer Finney Boylan, in the Washington Post:
… This weekend, the five-year clock starts ticking down to the country’s 250th anniversary, on July 4, 2026. One of the challenges facing America250 — an organization tasked by the United States Semiquincentennial Commission to commemorate the event — is keeping a new generation of Americans from rolling their eyes, or worse…
Recently Dan DiLella, the chair of the Semiquincentennial Commission, and Keri Potts, vice president of communications at America250, told me how they plan to address that problem. “This is going to be the most inclusive commemoration in American history,” Potts said. “For us, that means staying grounded in 1776, but remembering that there is history before and after 1776 that needs to be told.”
Specifically, that means that, for one thing, there will be a role in the observations for Americans whose ancestors were here long before the Declaration of Independence was signed. “We’re engaging with all the tribal reservations,” DiLella said. “That is our mandate.” It also means taking a hard look at the history of slavery in this country. Cities targeted for “special emphasis” by the Semiquincentennial Commission Act of 2016 include the traditional revolutionary shrines of Boston, Philadelphia, and New York — but also Charleston, S.C., one of the major centers of the slave trade.
The history the organization hopes to tell also includes the women’s movement. In November, America250 intends to create an interactive art installation at a D.C. gallery featuring the face of Civil War surgeon Mary Edwards Walker — an early supporter of women’s rights, and the only woman ever to have received the Medal of Honor.
“History is what it is,” DiLella said. “And I think it has to be told.”
Projects such as these make it clear that America250’s commitment to diversity is sincere. But the challenge it faces is the same one with which the country as a whole is struggling: How can we celebrate our history when the interpretation of history itself is now an issue that divides us?
“We’ve been through a lot in the last few years,” Potts said. “But if we can take the next five years to inspire, to imagine, to involve, then when we get to 2026, Americans will be more connected to each other, and to what it means to be an American. And that is our north star.”…