Tag Archives: Culture

America on Parade

by Kate

On Monday morning, the fair skinned Irish part of our family donned hats, and we all headed down the hill and around the corner for the annual Lawrenceville Memorial Day Parade.

Though it could be argued that we look fairly hip and urban here, let me assure you that this parade was endearingly small town and about as Americana as you can get. We attempted to dress appropriately, right down to Olympia’s stylish patriotic red white and blue boots.

There was a general sense of timelessness. Horses provided classic excitement.

This motorbike and cannon conjured up my lazy hazy knowledge the Lawrenceville was crucial in making cannons during the civil war, and then in sending many many young men off to WWI. I promise to learn the history by next year and share it with you.

I do know that Lawrenceville is famous for two things- the fact that the famous composer Stephan Foster was born here, and the Doughboy Statue. This statue was commissioned with funds originally raised to help out the many locals overseas fighting WWI, but the war ended before the funds could be sent out to help them. Here are Stephen and the Doughboy themselves.

They were followed by a group that completely delighted me- the Pittsburgh Letter Carriers’s Marching Band. I loved everything about them.

I fervently hope that this tradition continues. There was something really wonderful about seeing mailmen marching along playing musical instruments.

In contrast to the discipline of the Letter Carriers, there was a large group of men ambling along and stopping in a random manner to fire off blanks now and then. This was more painful and less endearing, but not entirely out of charactor for the Lawrenceville neighborhood. On the bright side, they really seemed to be enjoying themselves.

The Civil War re-enacters were far more disciplined. Of course.

There was an army of bagpipers, also very disciplined.

They were very dignified and impressive.

There were vintage fast cars, going slow.

A truck that I coveted.

There were Masons on parade.

And of course, an American parade wouldn’t be complete without a pretty girl waving  from a red convertible.

It was a great celebration of American history and community- even if I didn’t manage to catch any candy.

Mary’s Memorial Day Weekend Half Marathon

This Memorial Day weekend started off early for me as I rose before 5AM to drive to Black River Falls. For several weeks now, I have been feeling like I need to be challenging myself more. I decided a good way to do this was to run a half marathon.
 
Though, I have not been physically preparing myself to run such a distance, my mind has been doing a lot of wandering lately. Maybe it is in part because of the social media. Sometimes I feel  frustrated because often times I see pictures or get updates of others immersed in adventures of striving towards accomplishments.
 
Sometimes I can’t help but feel like I am just here. Just here signifies that there isn’t too much of a cultural aspect to the local quilt that is tucking me in. There is nothing wrong with that, but when I see photos of friends in far away places connecting with others of different cultures, it can sometimes make me feel smothered. Oddly enough, driving the hour to Black River Falls was just the medicine I needed for rejuvenation.
 
You see, the race I ran is on the Ho-Chunk Reservation. The reason for the race is that it is held in honor of a local Rez girl killed in “99. She died in a drunk driving accident. This young lady found healing through running and was able to turn her life around after she started training to run marathons. There was talk about her running for the US Olympic team someday. Coming home after prom though, she and 3 classmates were all killed by a repeat drunk driver late one May night.
 
Seeing all the Ho-Chunks that gathered to run was an inspiration to me. Memories started flooding me of my time living on a Chippewa Reservation in North Dakota. There is such a distinctive beauty in the Native American people.
 
Right before the race started, a drum circle provided the rhythm and chanting of a song for Indians while training to run longer and longer distances. It was SO beautiful. The circle drummed mid-race and was at the 12 mile mark too.
 
While running I ended up striking up some good conversations. The first was with a man who was here in the States to see his daughter graduate. She has been over here as an exchange student for the past year. He answered questions about his geographic realm of the world (Northern Italy). Talking to him was very interesting, as was a conversation that I had with an older Sioux Indian from South Dakota who had made the trip here for a powwow that is held. He has been working towards regaining his health. When training for this race, he’s lost 20 lbs. I found this so inspirational! I told him about North Dakota, the Turtle Mountains, the people there, and how much I hated the meth problems that the people there suffer from.
 
Talking distracted me from running, as did watching the Natives as I ran past. I had so much fun waving at the locals, many of whom drove past in ancient beater cars that reminded me once again of the Reservation in the Turtle Mountains. There is such a simultaneous goodness and sadness to those people.
 
How glad I am that I can drive just an hour away and see new sights, heat the beat of drums, strike up random conversations like the one with the man from Italy in way too tight of spandex running leggings (sorry, I am a descriptive writer, so there you have it).
 
The end of the race was disorganized. Though they thought that my time was 1:48, they didn’t know for sure. Because of this mix up they were unsure if I placed 2nd or 3rd. Regardless of this it doesn’t really matter to me.
 
I feel like I won just because I woke up early and forced myself to do something that I was scared of, and because I saw and conversed with especially unique people from different segments of this world….just an early morning hour away from home.