For my second blog post, I’d like to reflect briefly on last weekend’s St. Patrick’s Day festivities here in my Savannah, Georgia hometown, site of the nation’s second largest St. Patty parade and celebration. This past Saturday the 17th, however, was somewhat of an odd St. Patrick’s Day. Vice President Pence was here, which (because of heightened security concerns) altered the usual joyful, chaotic meandering of the parade and of the day.
For me, it started out like any other, with an estimated 500,000 visitors to our city of 150,000.
(The view from my study window early St. Pat morn. Folks gathering to celebrate and watch the three-plus hour parade.)
Don’t get me wrong. I LOVE the Green Joy of Savannah’s largest annual celebration …
… but there was a slight but discernible Overhang of Tension, a noticeable hybridity of “It’s Time to Celebrate as Usual” and “Because of the Negative Political Climate of the Day, the Vice President’s Visit is Not Such a Happy Occasion for Many.” A duality I had never perceived in years past.
Walking the route before things got underway, I saw that even the University of Georgia’s mascot, Uga (or a lookalike) seemed a little lethargic before mounting his parade float.
So, what was the difference this year? I think it was a sense of unease, a sense that as a nation we do not have it all together, that we are divided, as the parade route was divided. The 12 square blocks where Pence was stationed were cordoned off–you had to pass through a metal detector. You could not have coolers, folding chairs, tents. A frustrated neighbor asked a security person to hold her house key so she could venture inside the secure area.
The city got in hot water before the parade, saying that signs would be prohibited in the Pence-secured parade area. Until the ACLU filed suit in federal court and the city backed off.
As I walked Savannah’s historic district, enjoying house party after house party …
… I realized that we have some steps to climb …
… some compromises to make, in order to come together as a people in this country. For part of the morning, I was downhearted, listening to patriotic high school bands but hearing in my mind the incredibly beautiful but sorrowful refrains of “Danny Boy.” (If you have a moment, listen to Celtic Woman’s glorious version below.)
“But come ye back when summer’s in the meadow, Or when the valley’s hushed and white with snow, It’s I’ll be here in sunshine or in shadow, Oh Danny Boy, Oh Danny Boy, I love you so!”
We have a great city and a great country, “in sunshine or in shadow.” So regardless of political comings and goings, Republicanisms or Democratisms (are those words?), We are one people, one nation under God.
As I See It, we are gonna make it. Even when a parade is inconvenienced.