Red, white, and blue are our nation’s proud colors. Whether for Independence Day celebrations or Memorial Day parades, presidential inaugurations or ceremonies for the return of our war heroes, we use red, white, and blue to express our patriotism and pride, showing our gratitude to this free and bountiful nation.
Being our capital city, it is no surprise that Washington D. C., more than any place, cherishes these Americana colors. The city not only calls on them for special occasions, but has also woven them into every part of its life.
From the White House lawn to the Washington Monument, from Embassy Row to Capitol Hill, American flags are planted in rows and clusters. They drape tall buildings and flutter under streetlights. They’ve become part of the landscape, the garments of this city. I have never felt so self-conscious about being an American in America, residing in the capital of our country and hearing its every heartbeat.
I’ve also discovered that Washington is not always about politics, laws, and constitutions. And red, white, and blue are not the only colors that make this place shine. A perfect example occurs early in the spring when Washington emerges as a fairytale lady in her most splendid ballroom gown sewn together with billions of tiny cherry blossoms, drawing people from all over the country and the world to come and admire her beauty. It’s known as the National Cherry Blossom Festival. This year, it falls between March 20th and April 14th.
Cherry trees were introduced to Washington as a gesture of friendship from the city of Tokyo back in 1912 when 3,000 of them were planted around the tidal basin close to the National Mall. Through the years, these trees have thrived and multiplied, their blossom season becoming a highly-anticipated festival celebration this city cannot live without.
Every March, just as wintry gray has seemingly cast an ever-lasting spell upon us, these trees bring forth a most magnificent color show of sensuous pink, trumpeting the beginning of a hopeful new season. For a rare moment, their light delicate petals melt away the political tensions in the air. In unison, Washingtonians march out of their offices and homes, joining the multitude of tourists on the Mall. They immerse themselves in a sea of sublime pink, surrendering to this harmonious natural beauty. Spring has finally arrived, prophesying a renewal of our optimism and faith in this very special nation of the people, by the people, and for the people.
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Qin Stubis is a regular columnist in The Santa Monica Star.