Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Happy Fourth of July

Karen: Another year in the history books for the old US of A. We hope all our fellow Americans have a wonderful day with family and friends. Get that grill going and get your fireworks ready!


Anonymous said...

I’ve probably posted this before, but I always think Independence Day is such a strange and wonderful holiday. In almost every other place, there are national holidays that commemorate wars, but it’s always the end of a war...VE Day, VJ Day, Armistice Day, ‘Victory Day’ is celebrated for many different Cambodia it commemorates the end of the Khmer Rouge, in Viet Nam they have for victory over the French, and Reunification Day commemorates the fall of Saigon in 1975 and the end of what we call the Viet Nam war. In Russia & the former satellites, it commemorates victory over the Germans in WW2, in fact half the countries in the world have a day that commemorates the end of WW2, plus Hawaii and Rhode Island who have their own Victory Day which the rest of the US doesn’t have any more.

There are similarly many days that commemorate the start of revolutions / uprisings / change: Revolution Day in Mexico, Bastille Day in France, etc, but you guys are pretty unique.

Independence Day, though so associated with the American Revolution, is really a philosophical holiday. It is associated with neither the START of the revolution (Lexington & Concord) nor the END of it, which you could either say was the British army surrendering to GW or the Treaty of Paris. Mass & Maine have Patriots Day, which does actually commemorate Lexington & Concord, but other than that, your biggest holiday pretty much celebrates a series of philosophical declarations about the nature of freedom, the founding principles of a nation (rather than the founding itself) and a declaration which meant that years of struggle and pain were ahead of you, not behind you.

Only in America. Happy Birthday, guys.


Karen said...

Thanks, Richard. As much as I often fret over the future of this country (particularly when I see the antics of the clowns in Washington), I still have a deep love for my country. I do feel we have a unique 'origin' and have achieved so much, in such a short period of time. But we need to keep striving to live up to our ideals.

humanbelly said...

We even have a very well-regarded, popular musical- "1776"- that revolves directly around the event. The finale, in fact, incorporates the roll-call of signators coming down to place their, heh, John Hancock on the document (as it were).

I have to say though, Richard, that it's a considerable embarrassement that your deft grasp of the subtleties and historical significance of the nature of the holiday certainly outshines that of almost anyone I know-! And you, a guy lookin' at us from over yonder--!


david_b said...

Richard, thanks for the wonderful reminder. I believe every country has in some way strived for freedom from aggression at some point in their proud history, adding a rich layer to their national pride. As borders fall on many levels in the 21st Century, such as in our 'Information Age' and economic partnerships, we will further become 'one community', but I certainly hope rich heritages will never be forgotten.

As a veteran, I'm always reminded of that one saying, 'For those who fought, Freedom has a special flavor the protected will never know'. Please keep our fallen and their families in prayers today.

As Karen said, the absurdities of Washington do tend to make me scratch my head at times, but to me, it's just another administration. It will never waiver my joy of proudly serving.

Enjoy the day, everyone!

Anonymous said...

Hi HB – perspective is always easier from a distance. But who better than the Brits to have a perspective on that document? I mean, it’s actually addressed to us personally!

It does fascinate me. Did you know that the Declaration of Independence is not actually the real, July 4th one? They lost it. The one with everyone’s signature in the National Archives was actually drafted and signed on August 2nd.

Also, the ‘shot heard around the world’ is now taken to mean the assassination of Franz Ferdinand, but Emerson was actually talking about the first shot fired at the Brits at Concord.

Hi David – servicemen and women certainly do cause issues for pacifists, who can only admire them whilst potentially having different views about everything servicemen are asked to do. In the 80’s I lived with family in Virginia. When hiring people, my Uncle’s first question was always: where were you in Nam? He utterly opposed the war, but he would never hire a draft-dodger because he didn’t believe that citizens had the right to make that call. If you enjoy freedoms guaranteed by a government, you have to fight when they tell you, like it or not. I guess America is quite complex citizenship, isn’t it?

Hi Karen – For a country founded on liberty, it is strange that so much of what has been achieved by Americans has been achieved by great individuals in direct conflict with their government. I reckon if you compiled a list of ‘achievements of the sixties,’ with the exception of the moon landing, many people’s lists would be a catalogue of ANTI-government activity, including the civil rights movement, the campaign against the war, the music and cultural changes, women’s rights, etc.

I agree with you: when you look at the $16tn budget deficit which has been tied round the necks of ordinary Americans in order to bail out the bankers and other super-rich, it seems a long way from the stirring, beautiful words of the founding fathers.

You guys are actually unique in that your government has a very specific job description: it derives its powers from the consent of the governed to secure certain unalienable rights, among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of happiness and the self-evident truth that all men are created equal. Those are big words now, but in 1776...well, they would have been tantamount to a declaration of war.....except that they actually, specifically been were one!

Jefferson says that the biggest problem with people is that no matter how bad evils are, if they are still just about sufferable, we would prefer to suffer them than rise up against a system to which we have become accustomed. Man, that guy knew what he was talking about. I’m pretty sure that if Jefferson walked into a Wall Street protest now and joined the real Americans...well, I know which side of the street he’d be standing on.

The most amazing thing to me is that the Declaration says that if government loses the consent of the people or ceases to safeguard those freedoms, it is not merely your right to overthrow it, but your DUTY. Wow. Considering we were still bowing and curtseying at the time....


david_b said...

Thanks for your thoughts, Richard. I actually get along great with those folks who are typically pacifistic in nature.

A sewn patch on my military camo bag has a peace sign and says 'Peace Through Superior Firepower'. Being an old artilleryman from the Fulda Gap/Cold War days, it brings back memories of protecting countries who insisted on it.

As the old song goes, 'When freedom called, we answered. We were there'.

Doug said...

Tonight I saw the Independence Day fireworks on the National Mall. What an amazingly patriotic, cooperative crowd -- hundreds of thousands of people celebrating in a most-brotherly way. Every American who can afford the trip should pay a visit to our nation's capital. You wouldn't be sorry you did.


humanbelly said...

Oh wow, back in our neck of the woods, eh, Doug?

HBSpouse & I used to go to the display quite regularly in our youthful years. Now the local church has claimed her alegiance-- and I daresay I've surrendered to the curmudgeonly outlook that it's just TOO flippin' hot-- (and, oy, the traffic and the crowds-!).

Boy, nothing like belting along to big ol' instrumental recordings of Stars & Stripes Forever and the 1812 Overture, though! When several thousand people are doing that, it's indescribably wonderful-!


Related Posts with Thumbnails