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Banner for the 2012 Uncle Sam Parade in Troy, NY
      Today September 16, 2012 was the annual Uncle Sam parade in Troy, NY. It honors the memory of "Uncle Sam" Wilson, a local meat packer who supplied the United States during the War of 1812 with beef in barrels marked with a "U.S." The story has it teamsters and soldiers joked the letters stood for "Uncle Sam" and over time he became transmogrified into an icon representing the United States, much as England has been represented by John Bull.

    Today the City of Troy celebrated both the man, and the symbol he has become.

More below the Orange Omnilepticon.

     According to the wikipedia entry, the image of Uncle Sam as an elderly gentleman with a goatee and the red, white, and blue outfit didn't become formalized until World War One in a classic recruiting poster. His roots also include a Brother Jonathan. The two merged over time.

      Uncle Sam (in what almost seems like a tabloid story) at one time was often paired with an alternative icon for America, Columbia, who actually predates him to before the Revolution. The Statue of Liberty has pretty effectively replaced her - but don't worry about her too much. She's found work in Hollywood.

      Troy is a city in an area with some important links to American history. Troy is considered the cradle of the American industrial revolution - or a contender for the title at least. Abundant water power and the trade routes of both the Hudson River, the Erie Canal, and later the railroads helped drive economic development. Iron plates for the USS Monitor came from Troy's Burden Iron Works. Across the river, the Watervliet Arsenal has been a provider of major weapons for 200 years to the U.S. Military. Go a bit farther down the Hudson to Albany, you can find the last World War II Destroyer Escort still afloat - the USS Slater. And not too far away on the east side of the Hudson is Fort Crailo - where Yankee Doodle is supposed to have been written as a jibe at the colonials.

      All of the above is a long way of saying people in Troy have a reason to celebrate their heritage and its rich place in American history. Troy became known as the "Uncle Sam City" in 1961, a title it alternates with "the Collar City". The city has been holding a memorial to celebrate the memory of Uncle Sam Wilson for over 54 years now. Parades started in 1976; the lineup for the 2012 parade in the Troy Record makes the following observation:

The annual Uncle Sam Parade and Celebration, however, is more than just your everyday parade. It's a celebration of patriotism and citizen recognition. The two day event includes an annual graveside ceremony at the grave of Samual Wilson, the annual 'Uncle Sam Citizen of the Year Banquet', and immediately following the parade a celebration at the Knickerbocker Park. Park festivities include food, entertainment and the culmination of a spectacular fire works show at dusk.
 
         So, let me share a few photos with you from this year's parade. The route runs south from Lansingburgh for about 15 blocks or so.
waiting for the parade, Troy, NY
People begin setting up for choice viewing spots an hour before the parade start!
Lineup for the 2012 Uncle Sam parade
Local businesses, veterans groups, high school bands, firemen, police - it's a community parade.
Parade start - local officials 2012 Uncle Sam Parade
Local officials near the head of the parade. There's always a contingent every year, and you'll often see them stepping out of the parade to greet people they know along the route.
Fire trucks leaving the parade to respond to a call!
Just as the parade was starting, units of the Troy Fire Department had to rush off to respond to a call!
Miss Uncle Sam Pageant float
Every year, there's a pageant to select a Miss Uncle Sam for the parade. Here's this year's contestants.
Capital District Marching Band in the Uncle Sam Parade 2012
Capital District Marching Band on the street. The parade lineup includes local school bands and other groups as part of the celebration.
Uncle Sam Parade in Troy, NY 2012
One of the pleasures of marching in Troy is that there's almost always a good crowd along the streets. Troy is a city that still has a lot of residential properties within the city centers.
Watchers along Uncle Sam Parade route, 2012
The crowds are always a mix of all generations, coming together for an annual event shared by the whole community.
Reviewing stand for 2012 Uncle Sam Parade
Here's the reviewing stand at the end of the parade - one of the several veteran's groups honored in the parade is passing by.

       While there is certainly a lot to divide us in America these days, and very different visions competing for our future, there are still moments when we can come together as a community to celebrate our shared heritage. Hope you enjoyed this look at one such occasion.

Originally posted to xaxnar on Sun Sep 16, 2012 at 06:41 PM PDT.

Also republished by History for Kossacks and Community Spotlight.

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