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.
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.