An American Anniversary

words Ann Friedman

photos Steve Seem

DESPITE WHAT YOU MAY HAVE HEARD, the real America is not all white. It is, in fact, mostly pink. The real America drags a sunblock stick across its neck, but it doesn't do much good. It's only 9:30 and it's already hotter than Hades.

The real America can't believe there's no parking—not even far away! The real America has to hustle to make it across Constitution Avenue before the light changes. The real America bought this shirt yesterday—a polo printed with a graphic collage of the Constitution and American flags—from a street vendor. The real America got a great deal. Only $14. The real America is going to wear it golfing and to barbeques next summer. The real America has been staking out this spot—far from the stage but in full view of a jumbotron—since just after 6:00 a.m.

The real America lives just across the river from Portland, and recently went to a tea party in Vancouver—but there were no big-name speakers like there are today. Yeah, the Vancouver party was mainly locals. Not as big as the one in Seattle. Now that was a tea party.

The real America is part of a sisterhood of mommy patriots. The real America curled its bangs today. The real America planned its family vacation around this event, you know. The real America is grateful to Glenn Beck for the advance notice. The real America was at an awesome tea party in Pittsburgh a few weeks ago, but it just can't compare to this. This is powerful. Inspirational. The real America is not alone.

The real America snorts. It is absolutely certain it will not be counted today. Have you seen that there are people all the way to the Washington Monument? When Glenn says, "I just got word from the media that there's over a thousand people here!", the real America chuckles knowingly. To the real America, Glenn Beck is not the media. And this is not a political event.

The real America just likes a good montage, with monuments that fade into city skylines that fade into churches that fade into Martin Luther King, Jr. that fade into a smoldering hole in Lower Manhattan.

The real America's t-shirt is stained with sweat in the shape of a backpack. The real America forgot to put its phone on vibrate. The real America fans itself with a flattened red and white popcorn box and eats some jerky and baby carrots out of the cooler.

The real America feels the spirit of Martin Luther King, Jr. channeled through Sarah Palin, and does its best wolf-whistle for her. She mentions Marcus Luttrell. The real America already knows who he is—he's been on Fox News all week. He was in Afghanistan. He's an American hero. And if there's one thing America needs today, it's heroes. When Sarah says, "Though this rally is about restoring honor for these men and women, honor was never lost," the real America ignores the logical flaws.

The real America is instructed: "Look around you. You are not alone. You are Americans." A wave of emotion overcomes the real America, but it has a hard time clapping in sync as it chants "U-S-A, U-S-A, U-S-A."

As it walks away from the reflecting pool, the real America averts its eyes from the elderly black women holding a sign that says "Free the Dream." She is slowly repeating the words "Let go, let go, let go." The real America never once utters the word "Obama."

The real America needs you to hold its hot dog because ketchup is dripping into its shoe. The real America is gonna have a wicked sunburn tomorrow.