- The Washington Times - Tuesday, February 19, 2002

Yesterday's national holiday was officially George Washington's birthday, and the City of Alexandria celebrated it for the 205th year as it traditionally does, with one of the grandest parades around.
The parade stretched for more than 13 blocks, starting with a color guard that stood under a fluttering U.S. flag while a band played "It's a Grand Old Flag" to six Jeeps driven by men in vintage uniforms behind a sign that read "World War II Memorial."
Early in the parade came a horse-drawn open carriage bearing a man and a woman who portrayed George and Martha Washington. Her hair was white, and she was wearing the long, full-skirted dress of Colonial fashion. A tricornered hat covered Mr. Washington's white wig, and he wore white stockings, knee-length pants, a buttoned vest and swallow-tailed coat.
There were modern references in the parade: limousines and convertibles carrying dignitaries; Shriners dressed as clowns and riding motor scooters and miniature cars; a polished 1968 Camaro; a 1941 Chevrolet Deluxe coupe; and cowboys mounted on horses, shaggy in their winter coats.
But they were outnumbered by men and women dressed in Colonial attire. The men carried flintlock rifles. They followed banners of the Daughters of the American Revolution and Sons of the American Revolution.
And another "president" marched in tribute. A tall, lean man with full black beard, black suit and tall, black stovepipe hat was introduced as Abraham Lincoln to Mr. Washington in front of the reviewing stand next to Alexandria City Hall.
Abe would have been 193 years old on Feb. 12.
Then there were Sons of Confederate Veterans, harking back to Abraham Lincoln's time. Their sign read, "Serving Our Southern History Through Heritage Not Hate."
Before the hundreds of Boy and Girl Scout paraders came, another George Washington character, astride a statue of a horse arrived. "I cannot tell a lie," he said, referring to the legend about George Washington cutting down a cherry tree as a boy.
The September 11 terrorist attacks on the Pentagon and the World Trade Center were on the minds of some.
Gene Johnson, 58, of Mechanicsville, Md., said he had come to the Alexandria parade "Because of September 11 … I realize what we have here."
Jim Thomas, 81, of Arlington said, "I feel I'm more patriotic because of what happened." He said he has been attending the annual parade with his wife, Mary, for nine years.
"I was patriotic long before September 11," said Sue Murphy, of Waldorf, Md., who had attended a ceremony at Washington's Mount Vernon mansion yesterday morning before coming to the parade.
She was one of more than 10,000 visitors to Washington's home in Mount Vernon who watched a presidential emissary lay a wreath on the president's tomb and heard the fife and drum corps perform on the bowling green.
Then, the fife and drum corps, in Revolutionary War-era uniforms, went to Alexandria to join the parade.
Bill Sommerfield, who portrayed George Washington at Mount Vernon yesterday, will wear his Colonial attire Friday, which actually is the first president's 270th birthday, when he is in New York City to ceremoniously open the Stock Exchange.


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