The Nation: The Big 200th Bash

From New York harbor, the tall ships will move up the Hudson River under a cumulus of sail, like a stately apparition from another century. A few hours later, more than 200 million miles away in space, America's Viking lander will glide through the thin Martian atmosphere and settle on the Red Planet like a gray metal mantis.

Within such brackets of past and future, the United States will celebrate its 200th anniversary this weekend—a culminating moment of raucous blowout compounded of Disneyland pageantry and kitsch, perfervid oratory, sentiment and sentimentality, dissent, 10,000 miles...

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