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Even cavemen loved a parade - Dunwoody Crier: Our Columnists

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Farmer File Even cavemen loved a parade

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Posted: Tuesday, July 3, 2012 9:43 am

Dunwoody’s annual Fourth of July Parade, the region’s preeminent holiday parade, is a big hit, of course.  Even some lesser parades are popular.

Ever wonder why humans get such a kick out of lining streets to watch other humans walk by? It’s not like parades are a recent phenomenon.

Crude drawings on the walls of cavemen’s digs show the people and even animals walking in rows, which must have been depictions of the clans celebrating National Wooly Mammoth Day or the successful slaying of a saber-toothed tiger. And we all know that elephants love to parade trunk-to-tail fashion.

Among the more ardent parade fanatics were the showoff elitists of the Roman Empire.  They celebrated battlefield triumphs with massive festivities, including parades that featured the troops, chariots for the top brass and shackled masses of their vanquished enemies, one parade feature we don’t see much anymore.

We’ve come a long way in our parade preferences since the cave dwellers and the Romans and one of the major eras along the way was that of America’s transition from colonialism to independence.

The Declaration of Independence, the document itself, had a long and winding journey, a parade if you will, as detailed by the National Archives.

Independence Day should have been July 2, 1776, the day the Continental Congress voted for independence, the date the founding fathers assumed would be celebrated every year.

The written Declaration of Independence was dated July 4 but wasn’t signed until August 2. 

 “It was most likely filed in Philadelphia. On December 12, threatened by the British, Congress adjourned and reconvened eight days later in Baltimore, where the document remained until its return to Philadelphia in March of 1777. In the years to follow, it traveled widely with the Continental Congress before it was moved to Washington, DC in 1800. 

“In 1814, again threatened by war, it was moved to an unused gristmill in Virginia for protection. On August 24, as the British burned the White House, it was moved to Leesburg, Va., until September, when it returned to the nation’s capital. With the exception of a trip to Philadelphia for the Centennial and to Fort Knox during World War II, it has remained there ever since.

 “The document has also experienced many modes of travel. Initially, like other parchment documents of the time, the Declaration was probably stored in a rolled format. Each time the document was used, it would have been unrolled and re-rolled. It likely traveled by light wagon and by horseback with the Continental Congress it its early years. 

“When it was first taken to Washington, it traveled by boat, down the Delaware River and Bay, into the ocean, into Chesapeake Bay, and up the Potomac River to the new capital city. During World War II, it was moved by Pullman train to Louisville, Ky., and transferred under armed guard to Fort Knox for safety and protection.”

So America clearly loves a parade.  Proof of that comes in the old joke about the guy whose job is to clean up after a carnival parade featuring elephants.

A spectator, seeing the guy shovelling the elephants’ droppings, asked him, “How can you put up with such demeaning conditions? Haven’t you ever considered another line of work?”

Replied the elephant poop picker-upper, “What, and give up show business?”


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