On July 4, Falun Gong practitioners participated in the Washington DC Independence Day Parade for the seventh consecutive year. Starting in 1979, the parade has been a key component of the annual Independence Day celebration activities. While the parade includes all kinds of decorated floats, marching bands, and performances, many of the participating groups take "Freedom and Independence" as the theme of their presentation. It was estimated that several hundred thousand people watched the parade along Constitution Avenue.
According to John Wiscombe, one of the parade organisers, more than 200 groups across the United States were selected to participate in the parade. Many marching bands applied to the parade, and only about two dozen were selected after several rounds of consideration by the steering committee. One of the selected bands was the Falun Gong practitioners' Divine Land Marching Band.
Software engineer Mr. Wang is a practitioner from Washington DC, and he said, "Every year, the parade organisers select us despite pressure from the Chinese Communist regime because they know that we represent the authentic Chinese culture."
The Falun Gong procession was led by four practitioners in yellow suits, who displayed a "Falun Gong, Truthfulness-Compassion-Forbearance" banner. The banner was followed by a fine decorated float, on which several practitioners of different ethnicities demonstrated the Falun Gong exercises. Emerging from mud and displaying pure beauty, the giant lotus flower at the top of the float and smaller lotus flowers symbolise the nature of cultivation practice.
The float was followed by the Divine Land Marching Band, which consists of more than 100 practitioner musicians. The band performed "Falun Dafa is Good," "Drums and Trumpets Shake the World in Ten Directions", "America the Beautiful" and "King of the Golden Law Wheel Descends to the World". Along the parade route, the Falun Gong procession was met with warm applause.
Members of the Divine Land Marching Band wore a uniform based on attire from the Tang Dynasty. Upon seeing the band, Chinese immigrant Mr. Yang said, "They showcase our traditional culture and I am very proud to see our culture in the US."
An older Chinese couple sat in chairs to watch the parade. Mr. Chen said that they have come to the parade for the past several years. Mr. Chen said, "I saw the Marching Band, and I am impressed by the fact that Falun Gong can form such a large band in a short time."
Chen said that he saw practitioners demonstrating Falun Gong outside a subway station several years ago and that he reads the Epoch Times regularly. When he was told that Divine Performing Arts would perform in DC in 2009, he asked how he could purchase tickets.
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