Happy Birthday, America!

Happy July 4th! I hope your day is spent in pure leisure, in eating wonderful food and in enjoying friends and family. That’s going to be my day!

When I was young, I knew today was America’s birthday, but I didn’t know why today was the big day until I was a little older. It was then I learned about Philadelphia and the Declaration of Independence and the brave men who risked treason to sign and adopt it. Parades with their pageantry and fireworks with their colors and bursting designs seem the perfect way to celebrate our country’s birthday.  I’ll wear my red, white and blue proudly.

I hear America singing, the varied carols I hear;

Those of mechanics – each one singing his, as it should be,
blithe and strong;
The carpenter singing his, as he measures his plank and beam;
The mason singing his, as he makes ready for work,
or leaves off work;
The boatman singing what belongs to him in his boat –
the deckhand singing on the streamboat deck;
The shoemaker singing as he sits on his bench –
the hatter singing as he stands:
The wood-cutter’s song the ploughboy’s, on his way
The delicious singing of the mother – or of the young wife
at work – or of the girl sewing or washing – Each singing
what belongs to her, and to none else;
The day what belongs to the day – At night, the party of
young fellows, robust, friendly,
Singing, with open mouths, their strong melodious songs

– Walt Whitman (1819–1892). Leaves of Grass

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12 Comments on “Happy Birthday, America!”

  1. splendid Says:

    from the Writer’s almanac to you my friends…

    Happy Birthday Walt Whitman!!!!
    The 1855 edition contained a preface, which was left out of subsequent editions, and in it he wrote:
    “This is what you shall do: Love the earth and sun and the animals, despise riches, give alms to every one that asks, stand up for the stupid and crazy, devote your income and labor to others, hate tyrants, argue not concerning God, have patience and indulgence toward the people, take off your hat to nothing known or unknown or to any man or number of men, go freely with powerful uneducated persons and with the young and with the mothers of families, read these leaves in the open air every season of every year of your life, re-examine all you have been told at school or church or in any book, dismiss whatever insults your own soul; and your very flesh shall be a great poem and have the richest fluency not only in its words but in the silent lines of its lips and face and between the lashes of your eyes and in every motion and joint of your body.”
    Today is Independence Day. It marks the day in 1776 when the Continental Congress approved the Declaration of Independence from Great Britain. The document was approved and signed on July 2, and was formally adopted on July 4; John Adams always felt that the Second of July was America’s true birthday, and wrote to his wife, Abigail, that the date “will be celebrated, by succeeding Generations, as the great anniversary Festival.” He envisioned “Pomp and Parade … Games, Sports, Guns, Bells, Bonfires and Illuminations from one End of this Continent to the other.” He reportedly refused to appear at annual Fourth of July celebrations for the rest of his life, in protest. He died on July 4, 1826, the 50th anniversary of the Declaration’s adoption — as did Thomas Jefferson, who had written most of the document.


    • katry Says:

      Thanks for the great info on Leaves of Grass. I read it in college and had totally forgotten it all!

      I knew about Adams and Jefferson dying on the 4th. I think it was Adams who asked before he died if Jefferson still lived. “He does,” was the answer though Jefferson had already died.

  2. Rob Says:

    Whenever I read or hear the words from the Declaration of Independence I think of our African American citizens who have waited so long for the equality promised in the words, “That all men are created equal”.

    In 1789 the Constitutional Convention decided to count them as two-thirds of a person for the purpose of apportionment to satisfy the southern states. After 235 years, a bloody civil war, the KuKlux Klan, Jim Crow laws, the civil rights struggle and endemic prejudice, my kids, aged 17 and 14, don’t really see any differences in people based on skin color. They truly believe that race is just a ‘pigment’ of your imagination. I can remember attending segregated schools and watching Black people move to the back of the bus while my ordinary people, both young and old, thought nothing of using the ‘N’ word. This transformation in just one generation is the real meaning of Independence Day for me.

    Let’s all have a fun day eating hot dogs and hamburgers with our families and friends while being thankful that our country is finally beginning to fulfill its promise of freedom to all the people.

    • katry Says:

      I never saw any of the Jim Crow laws growing up in Massachusetts. I saw my first black person when I was 3 and I asked her why she was like chocolate. She screamed at me and called my mother white trash. 17 years later I’d start my first of 2 years in Ghana.

      “This transformation in just one generation is the real meaning of Independence Day for me.”-great line!!

  3. olof1 Says:

    No time for leisure over on this side of the big ocean, only lots of work 🙂

    Have a Happy Fourth of July!


  4. Zoey & Me Says:

    Actually NY was the last to sign on August 2nd. But that made little difference. The compromise was July 4th. And we’ve had a blast all weekend. Now hoping after the cookout this threatening dark sky won’t open up and ruin our fireworks.

    • katry Says:

      I hope you get your fireworks in-today was the perfect day here. It started out humid then a breeze blew to cool down the air. We had a wonderful afternoon!

      Ooh and Ah a little for me!

  5. Lori Kossowsky Says:

    I love those words of Walt Whitman. I like what Rob says. Don’t know what I will do today…something fun later on.
    Waving Lori

  6. Rowen Says:

    Long day of standing in the smoke! 😉 Burgers, dogs, salmon, sangria, 25 people who brought amazing stuff. Totally exhilarated and exhausted.

    • katry Says:

      Haven’t had sangria in ages-perfect for summer with all that fruit. Nothing better than happy food and happy people!

      I’m thinking that was the perfect day!

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