Veterans Day — Celebrating Those Who Served

Major hostilities of World War I ended on the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month of 1918, the time at which the Armistice with Germany was signed. Along with Europe, the United States originally observed Armistice Day, remembering those who died in the “war to end all wars.” Turns out, it didn’t end all wars. Along came another world war (enough already, Germany — you had your chance!) and then another war (Korean War) and Armistice Day evolved in 1954 into Veterans Day. Congress, and our veterans, realized that we’d be better off creating a day to remember American veterans of all wars, since these wars just seemed to keep on coming.

While Memorial Day celebrates our veterans who died while serving, Veterans Day celebrates all U.S. military veterans.

Summer Whites & Summer Nights: Navy Band Concert

Springfield rifles, disco, precision drills, bayonets, the presenting of the flag and “Jersey Boys” — how’s that for a hot date on a hot summer night? The Navy band concert is part of a long tradition of live military concerts in DC, and a perfect storm of summer whites and summer nights.

The Concert on the Avenue series features the United States Navy Band and Navy Ceremonial Guard playing live in concert on select Tuesday evenings this summer at the U.S. Navy Memorial on Pennsylvania Avenue. The next shows are July 22, July 29, August 12 and August 19.

If the Navy’s top brass kicking beats isn’t enough to float your boat, get a load of the Sea Chanters, the official chorus of the U.S. Navy. The Chanters’ repertoire includes sea chanteys, patriotic songs and even pop ditties. In the Heyday video below, the Sideboys ensemble (part of the Sea Chanters chorus) performs “Sherry” as part of its “Jersey Boys” medley during a concert at the U.S. Navy Memorial on June 17, 2014. Musician 1st Class Michael Webb, a native of Reston, Va., sings lead.

The Navy loves pop music!

When the Village People released “In the Navy” in 1978, the Navy contacted the group about using the song as a recruitment tool in a TV and radio ad campaign. The band’s manager agreed, on the condition that the Navy help them shoot the music video. The Navy provided the Village People with the warship USS Reasoner in San Diego, several aircraft and a crew with strict orders not to dance. The Navy later canceled the campaign after protests about the use of taxpayer money to support a group that some thought might have ulterior motives for joining the Navy. Here’s the official video. You decide.

Folklife Festival 2014 Features “America’s No. 1 Enemy” and “Obama’s Birthplace”

Folklife Festival Kenya thatch hut

Peeping Tom at the Kenyan thatch hut (Photo By: heydayjoe)

The Smithsonian Folklife Festival is the annual event in which America feigns interest in cultural traditions that are not her own, typically from countries we consider to be our pals. But not this year. Throwing caution to the five winds, organizers decided to fulfill the most paranoid delusions of the Tea Party faithful – that Obama is a Muslim, Kenyan-born, kowtowing Commie – by bucking tradition and featuring the cultural folklore of Kenya and China. (Congratulations, China, on surpassing Iran this year as our No. 1 enemy!)

Launched during the Summer of Love in 1967, the free-of-charge Folklife Festival is the largest cultural event in DC, drawing more than 1 million visitors to sweat together under tents each year.

Held outdoors on the National Mall for two weeks every summer, Folklife over the years has brought more than 23,000 artists, musicians, performers, craftspeople, cooks, workers, storytellers and others to the Mall to demonstrate their creative traditions. To help us remember America’s still No. 1, though, the festival always overlaps the Fourth of July. (NOTE: Our tradition of eating BBQ, drinking beer, wearing the American flag and blowing sh*t up will always trump your quaint costumed dances and soapstone hippo carvings.)

Folklife has featured tradition bearers from more than 90 countries and is “an international exposition of living cultural heritage,” according to its producer, the Smithsonian Institution’s Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage. It’s a chance for Americans to see other cultures without having to leave America, like visiting Chinatown or going to the Bronx.

Folklife Festival Tian Tian Xiang Shang Gateway

Danny Yung’s comic figure Tian Tian points to his Tian Tian Xiang Shang Gateway. Yung is the founder of avant-garde arts group Zuni Icosahedron and is revered as the “cultural godfather” of Hong Kong. (Photo By: heydayjoe)

Programs at Folklife are usually divided into a nation, region, state or theme. Some are more exotic than others. Topics have included Workers at the White House, King Island Eskimo Dancers, Streetplay, Portuguese-American Fado Musicians, Iroquois Confederacy, American Trial Lawyers, Meat Cutters and Butchers, Unfolding the AIDS Memorial Quilt, Bhutan: Land of the Thunder Dragon, Gateways to Romania, Organ Builders and Iowa: Community Style.

To bring these programs to life, the Festival has built an array of cultural re-creations, including an Indian village with 40-foot-high bamboo and paper statues, a Japanese rice paddy, a New Mexican adobe plaza and a horse racetrack that stretched from the Washington Monument to the U.S. Capitol Building.

This year, Folklife constructed the enormous Tian Tian Xiang Shang Gateway at the western entrance to the festival, to remind festivalgoers that China has a lighter side, one that it plans to employ when it crushes America with its growing economic power. Rather than showing off its more recent traditions of cultural repression and citizen intimidation, China instead featured such cultural customs as clay sculpture, traditional Inner Mongolian music and kite-making. If you want a taste of real Chinese economic influence, visit DC’s new Walmart at 1st and H Street NW.

The video below features Inner Mongolian ensemble Ih Tsetsn performing at the Moonrise Pavilion on July 5. The band’s name means “broad, inclusive and wise” in the Mongolian language, and their music was just that – showcasing the morin khuur (horse-head fiddle), topshuur (two-stringed plucked instrument), long song and khoomei throat-singing. We dare you not to belch along.

The Kenya programs at Folklife featured natives dressed like Marion Barry during his African-garb phase, wild booty-shaking percussion music and fantastic huts made of recycled bottles, tin, bottle caps, broken tiles and glass.

The video below features Makadem, a Kenyan artist specializing in Benga music, performing with his band at the Ngoma Stage on June 29.

Check out the photos below for more highlights of the Folklife Festival 2014.

Click here to see more 2014 Folklife Festival videos on Heyday DC’s YouTube channel.

Today Washington DC Became Capital of the United States

The U.S. Capitol as it appeared circa 1800, when DC became capital

The U.S. Capitol as it appeared circa 1800 when DC became capital, in a watercolor painting by William Russell Birch (Image Courtesy of Library of Congress)

On June 11, 1800, DC became capital of the United States, leaving the country’s former capital of the previous decade, Philadelphia, to the fate of Pennsylvanians. While Washington, DC, was a young upstart, Philadelphia was the largest city in America at the time, with nearly 50,000 residents.

George Washington never saw the city named after him become the capital of the new nation; he had died more than six months before – his last words: “Tis well.”

In 1800, the U.S. Capitol building consisted only of the Senate’s north wing. The Senate and House members shared this wing until a temporary wooden pavilion was built for House members. Their south wing was finally completed in 1811, but the House members didn’t wait – they left their pavilion and moved into the unfinished wing in 1807.

At this time of the capital move from Philly, there were only about 125 federal employees newly bound for DC, and official documents and archives were transferred by ship via inland waterways.

President John Adams had to move, too, but the “President’s Palace” – which wouldn’t be called the “White House” until 1811 – was still under construction. Instead, Adams took a room over Tunnicliff’s, a Capitol Hill tavern at the corner of 1st and A NE. Good to know that our first DC resident President lived over a bar…

United House of Prayer Has Sweet Daddy of a Parade

(Photo By: heydayjoe)

(Photo By: heydayjoe)

Not to be confused with IHOP, UHOP is a big deal in DC. Bigger than all-day pancake breakfast. Big enough to have its own parade. IHOP doesn’t get its own parade.

With a dozen brass bands, gospel singers and cheerleaders for Jesus, UHOP takes the almighty word of God to the streets each year on Memorial Day weekend with its “Christian Saints” marching parade. The video below shows one of several blocks filled with church members preparing for the parade.

The United House of Prayer for All People (also known as the United House of Prayer for All People of the Church on the Rock of the Apostolic Faith) – let’s call it UHOP – was founded in 1919 by “Sweet Daddy” Grace, a Cape Verdi immigrant also known as Bishop Charles Manuel Grace and born as Marcelino Manuel da Graca. Let’s call him “Sweet Daddy.”

Once a railway cook, Sweet Daddy began using the title bishop and built the first UHOP church in Wareham, Mass., for 39 bucks – ecumenical and economical. The church was incorporated in Washington, DC, in 1937, and its national headquarters is located in the Shaw neighborhood at 601 M Street NW. Members refer to the headquarters as “Sweet God’s White House.” (Its gold dome can be seen in the still for the video above.)

In addition to its renowned cafeteria, which serves inexpensive soul food, UHOP headquarters is also famous for it mass street baptisms, in which hundreds of congregants dressed in white, many wearing shower caps, are baptized by fire hose.

According to UHOP documents, the church now has between 25,000 and 50,000 members, with 145 houses of worship in 29 states.

For its annual parade, UHOP busses in congregants from all over the country. After about an hour of preparation, in which shout-band cacophony fills the streets near the church, the parade kicks off in royal fashion. Led by long columns of male church elders in black robes, UHOP’s current bishop, C.M. “Sweet Daddy” Bailey, rides in a chariot throne with members of his family.

Born to Be Mild: Rolling Thunder Rumbles into DC

(Photo By: heydayjoe)

(Photo By: heydayjoe)

On Memorial Day weekend, the patriotic motorcycle rally Rolling Thunder rumbled into DC for its annual tribute to our country’s veterans. Tens of thousands of Baby Boomer bikers roared down the streets of DC to honor fallen soldiers, living veterans, prisoners of war and, particularly, those still missing in action.

Rolling Thunder’s mission is to educate, facilitate, and never forget by means of a demonstration for service members that were abandoned after the Vietnam War. Rolling Thunder has also evolved into a display of patriotism and respect for all who defend our country.”

(Photo By: heydayjoe)

(Photo By: heydayjoe)

The annual ride and gathering first began in 1988 as the Rolling Thunder First Amendment Demonstration Run. Riders from across the country rallied in the Pentagon parking lots before cruising the streets of DC together because … freedom.

Some of these motorcycle enthusiasts have been fighting for their right to be heard for 50 years – essentially this is your grandfather’s motorcycle club – and they know how to make some noise. Baby Boomers hold more than half of all American wealth, and this capitol convergence showcases perhaps the finest collection of beautiful modern, vintage and iconic motorcycles to ever grace the grassy fields of the National Mall.

Given their need to accommodate expanding cargo, these elegant bikes are built for the ultimate comfortable ride. Most include custom amenities for the long haul, with one exception: the quiet muffler, which could stifle the sound of elderly rebellion. Sure, you can take the rebellion out of the aging rebel, but you can’t take the squeal out of the hog – unless you have patriotism-regulating Patriot Defenders pipes. In other words, patriotism needs to be heard to be seen but not necessarily seen to be understood. Got that? Freedom!

Cowboy Indian Alliance Rally Ends with a Bang and a Whoop

(Photo By: heydayjoe)

On Saturday, April 26, at 11 a.m., thousands gathered on the National Mall for the finale of a weeklong protest to reject construction of a transcontinental oil pipeline and protect America’s land and water.

Hosted by the Cowboy Indian Alliance – a group of ranchers, farmers and Native American tribal communities – the “Reject and Protect” protest sought to stop construction of the Keystone XL pipeline. The proposed TransCanada pipeline would carry crude oil from the tar sands of Canada’s Alberta province to refineries on the Texas Gulf Coast.

Although there were a half dozen teepees and a smattering of Native Americans and aboriginal Canadians in the crowd, the closest thing to a cowboy appeared to be Neil Young – and he’s Canadian. Following a series of speakers, the protesters gathered behind Neil and tribal leaders and marched to the White House to present President Obama with a hand-painted teepee. Since the proposed pipeline would cross an international border, it needs Obama’s approval to move forward. Although the fate of the Keystone XL pipeline has been in limbo for five years, Obama is waiting for a recommendation from Secretary of State John Kerry before he makes his final decision.

Click on the thumbnails below to see shots from the rally and the march.

Holding Out for Some Heroes

(Photo By: heydayjoe)

(Photo By: heydayjoe)

On Friday, DC’s Awesome Con, a self-described “comic-con that embraces all aspects of geekdom and pop culture,” attempted to break the Guinness World Record for most assembled costume players photographed at one time. The clarion calls went out through social media, microphones and bullhorns for all superheroes (and villains) to meet at noon at the Reflecting Pool in front of the U.S. Capitol. The goal was to beat the current world record held by China’s World Joyland, the Chinese equivalent of Disneyland, which gathered 1,530 costumed characters on April 19, 2011.

There must have been a confluence of worldwide calamities yesterday, because only 237 superheroes showed up – and most of them were under four feet tall.

Heyday DC was there on the National Mall to witness this grand fizzle of a nonhistoric non-event. Click on the photos below to see some of our favorite costumed crusaders.

 

As American as Cherry Pie … and Sushi

National Cherry Blossom Festival in Washington DC

She wants to do with Pablo Neruda what spring wants to do with the cherry trees. (Photo By: heydayjoe)

Each spring, thousands make their annual pilgrimage to DC to gaze in awe at the riotous blooming of the Japanese cherry trees. Poet Pablo Neruda, distinctly not Japanese, once wrote, “I want to do with you what spring does with the cherry trees.” Although we think that’s pretty hot, it has nothing to do with the history of the cherry trees in Washington, DC.

The first shipment of Japanese cherry trees arrived in DC in 1910, a gift from the city of Tokyo intended as a gesture of friendship and goodwill between the people of Japan and the United States. When the trees arrived, however, they were so infested with insects and parasitic worms that there was no easy way to re-gift them to another country. So President Taft agreed to have them incinerated in a heaping big bonfire. Many thought this was no way to accept a gift.

Nothing says "thank you" like burning your gift in a bonfire. (Source: U.S. National Arboretum)

Because nothing says “thank you” like burning your gift in a bonfire… (Source: U.S. National Arboretum)

After much diplomacy to smooth over the embarrassing burning of the gift, in 1912 the people of Japan sent a new bug-free shipment of 3,020 cherry trees, and these were planted along the Potomac River. First Lady Helen Herron Taft and the wife of the Japanese ambassador planted the first two cherry trees on the northern bank of the Tidal Basin, and workmen planted the rest around the Tidal Basin and East Potomac Park. (The two original trees are still there, near the John Paul Jones statue at the south end of 17th Street.)

In 1965 Japan gave First Lady Lady Bird Johnson (that’s a mouthful) 3,800 more trees to plant, and today there are 3,750 trees of 16 varieties on national parkland in DC.

This year marks the 102nd anniversary of the original gift of friendship from Japan, although on the 39th anniversary, Japan bombed Pearl Harbor, so how’s that for friendship? Four days later, four cherry trees were chopped down in suspected retaliation. The culprits were never caught. To prevent further attacks against the trees, the Cherry Blossom Festival was suspended during World War II (resuming in 1947), and the trees were referred to for the remainder of the war as the “Oriental” flowering cherry trees.

This wasn’t the end of the cherry tree assaults though. In 1999, the trees were attacked once more. But this time they found the vandals – beavers! The beavers were forcefully removed from the Tidal Basin, and fences were erected around some of the more defenseless trees.

Beaver Vandals (Illustration By: Matt Wainwright)

Beaver Vandals (Illustration By: Matt Wainwright)

If you’d like to take a gander at these celebrity cherry trees, you can find them in three National Park Service locations: around the Tidal Basin in West Potomac Park, in East Potomac Park (Hains Point) and on the grounds of the Washington Monument. (For more info on the varieties of cherry trees and their locations, click here.)

Some random facts about the DC cherry blossoms:

(Photo By: heydayjoe)

(Photo By: heydayjoe)

  • The National Cherry Blossom Festival is scheduled every year based on when the National Park horticulturalists predict peak bloom, but nature doesn’t always cooperate. The weather determines when the trees will bloom, and sometimes it’s not during the festival.
  • Most of the trees are of the Yoshino variety, and the average blooming date for the Yoshino cherry trees is April 4.
  • Peak bloom is defined as the day on which 70 percent of the blossoms of the Yoshino trees open.
  • The earliest blooms were on March 15 in 1990.
  • The latest blooms were on April 18 in 1958.
  • The Kwanzan cherry tree, the second-most-numerous variety between the Tidal Basin and Hains Point, blooms two weeks after the Yoshino trees. So if you’re a late bloomer, you still have a shot at seeing some blossoms.

To commemorate this perennial event, please submit your very own cherry blossom haiku by email or in the comments below. We’ll read them all and publish the best of them.

Here are two to get you started…

tourists swarm around

cherry trees in luscious bloom

as if sedated

 

the beaver vandals

hide in the day, but at night

they eat your blossoms