Posted tagged ‘Declaration of Independence’

“Memory is the way we keep telling ourselves our stories – and telling other people a somewhat different version of our stories.”

March 4, 2017

Winter is rearing its ugly head. Today is downright cold. It is 20˚ right now and today’s low will be 8˚. Gracie and I were going to the dump, but I think now I’ll just stay comfy and warm at home. Gracie is asleep on the couch beside me, her usual spot this time of day.

When I was a kid, my mother had a picture with a little boy in a blue bathrobe standing by a soapy tub. There was also a poem in the picture about taking a bath and cleaning up after yourself. That picture hung on the wall across from the toilet. I used to read the poem every time I sat on the throne as my dad used to call it. The bathrobe had a fuzzy texture as did a towel on the boy’s arm. I don’t know what happened to that picture; I’m thinking it was probably thrown out when my parents moved. I saw that same picture, with the fuzz, hanging at a B&B in Ireland, in Youghal. I tried to buy it. They didn’t want to part with it.

I had to memorize all sorts of things for school when I was a kid. The worst was when I was in the eighth grade. I had a crazy nun named Sister Hildegard. She used to eat candy from her desk drawer. It was no secret. We knew she did from her chewing. Once she even spit nuts on my paper when she talked to me. She called us devils and said she would write thanks be to God across the whole blackboard when we graduated. She made us memorize the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution. I got through all of the Declaration of Independence and part of the Constitution when I decided I’d had enough. My desk was directly across from Sister Hildegard’s desk with only a small space between us. I put my history book on the floor opened to the Constitution. Every day during history I’d recite a new section, but I cheated by looking at the book on the floor. Soon enough anyone who could get away with it did the same thing. Sister Hildegard would have called me an occasion of sin.

You have to love a nation that celebrates its independence every July 4, not with a parade of guns, tanks, and soldiers who file by the White House in a show of strength and muscle, but with family picnics where kids throw Frisbees, the potato salad gets iffy, and the flies die from happiness. You may think you have overeaten, but it is patriotism.

July 4, 2014

Happy July 4th!

We had a bit of rain this morning. It started just as I went to get the papers. I swear it was done on purpose, but I don’t know whom to blame. I got wet. The sun is out right now, but the storm is heading our way and will be here in the evening and will stay all night with heavy rain and strong winds. Nothing like Mother Nature dramatically celebrating the 4th of July in her own way.

My American flag waves in the front yard all the time. My Peace Corps flag does too. For today I have bunting hung on the fence and a wooden flag on the gate. I am proud to be an America. It is the greatest country in the world. We aren’t always right in what we do, but we usually do it with the best of intentions, and we welcome dissenters who disagree. Look around. You see Americans from so many different places. Try to describe an American, and you can’t give a physical description. The most ardent Americans are often from somewhere else, people who have chosen to become citizens because they see and appreciate the freedoms we enjoy. We have lived with those freedoms all our lives and sometimes we forget what we have. Today is a day to remember we live in the home of the free and the brave.

On July 4th in 1776, the Continental Congress approved the final wording of the Declaration of Independence. They’d been working on it for a couple of days after the draft was submitted on July 2nd and finally agreed on all of the edits and changes.

July 4, 1776, became the date that was included on the Declaration of Independence, and the fancy handwritten copy that was signed in August. It’s also the date that was printed on the Dunlap Broadsides, the original printed copies of the Declaration that were circulated throughout the new nation. So when people thought of the Declaration of Independence, July 4, 1776 was the date they remembered.

“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”