What makes a great city is not what it is, but who it is. More than the ghosts of its illustrious past, a great city must also be the real and ready smile of the present, and during this week of Bicentennial festivities, Mexico City was that and more, for all the world to see.

In eager, tri-color painted faces, frizzy wigs and flashing glasses, waving “banderas” of every description, Mexicans from all over the country filled the streets of the capital, flocking to the immense main square of the “zocalo” by the thousands, braving long but orderly security check lines with patience and good humor.

President Felipe Calderon was clearly looking to catalyze that elusive “mexicanidad,” a sense of cultural distinctiveness, when he sent a flag to every family in the country, and in a way, it worked. Not a state or a contingent was left out of the giant tapestry that is Mexico, and they came because they wanted to, college kids from Tijuana, friends and parents from Tlaxcala, grandmothers from Guanajuato, children and pets, couples and colleagues. … Read More