Posted tagged ‘Independence Day’

“America is a tune. It must be sung together.”

July 4, 2017

I have traditional posts for most holidays. When I try to write something new, I find I can’t do better. It seems I poured all of my feelings and memories into the very first post, but here is an old memory I’m happy to share: when I was a kid, I marched in St. Patrick’s Shamrocks, a drill team which competed all summer long. All winter we learned our on-field maneuvers. We marched in local parades including the one in Wakefield on July 4th. One of my parents’ friends had a house on the parade route. Everyone would be on the lawn or the front porch to watch the parade. When St. Pat’s marched by the house, everyone yelled my name. I was both embarrassed and delighted. That’s one of my favorite memories of the day.

I just love birthdays and today is the grandest of them all. Happy Birthday, America.

On July 3rd 1776, John Adams wrote a letter to his wife Abigail. In it, he predicted the celebrations for American Independence Day, including the parties:

“It ought to be solemnized with Pomp and Parade, with Shews, Games, Sports, Guns, Bells, Bonfires and Illuminations from one End of this Continent to the other.”

The problem was he expected July 2nd to be Independence Day as that was the day the Second Continental Congress voted for independence, but the signing ceremony for the Declaration of Independence didn’t happen until two days later so because July 4th appears on the Declaration, it became the date we celebrate Independence.

I know some people complain that the meaning of the day is lost in the barbecues and the fireworks, but they have forgotten John Adams’ hope. We are celebrating exactly as he wished. Flags are waving everywhere. Families get together to celebrate and to break bread, albeit hot dog rolls. Fireworks illuminate the sky. Baseball is played on small town fields and in huge stadiums. Drums beat the cadence in parades. We sing rousing songs celebrating America and our freedom. We also sing heartfelt songs about what America means to us. We are many sorts of people, we Americans. We don’t all look the same, eat the same foods or dress in the same way, but we all celebrate today and we share a love of country. Happy Birthday, America, from all of us Americans.

“For in every adult there dwells the child that was, and in every child there lies the adult that will be.”

July 5, 2015

Last night was wonderful except for the cold. I had to laugh when I looked at my guests and four of them were wearing their sweatshirt hoods and two of them were also wrapped in afghans. The rest of us also donned a sweatshirt or a jacket but no hoods. Dinner was a success from the appetizers to the dessert. The movie Independence Day was the perfect choice even though all of us had seen it. We clapped at the end of the president’s rousing speech about July 4th now being Independence Day for the world. Bill Pullman is way over the top, but I figure alien invaders bent on world annihilation deserve a speech more than a bit histrionic. Dessert was ice cream, just what we needed on a cold night, but the hot fudge and hot peanut butter sauces made the chill worthwhile. The evening ended quite late, after midnight. By the time I did a little cleaning and checked my e-mail, it was close to 3, but I still wasn’t tired. I watched a little TV, the perfect soporific, and shortly thereafter went to bed. I crawled out of bed at 11 this morning. I hope my neighbors didn’t wonder if I survived the night as my paper was still in the driveway.

One of my most memorable days was July 4th when I was around 12 or 13. We didn’t go to the fireworks, but I could see them from the hill behind my house. The colors would burst into circles first one then another. Some were single circles. Some were triples. They were beautiful. A couple of my neighbors were also watching and afterwards they invited in for a root beer. We sat around the kitchen table talking. The conversation went all over the place. They didn’t speak to me as if I were a kid, and that’s what I remember the most, how that conversation was the first tug of adulthood. I was a pushmi-pullyu looking in two different directions. Little changed that night, but the changes were starting.

“America is a tune. It must be sung together.”

July 4, 2015

I just love birthdays and today is the grandest of them all. Happy Birthday, America.

On July 3rd 1776, John Adams wrote a letter to his wife Abigail. In it, he predicted the celebrations for American Independence Day, including the parties:

It ought to be solemnized with Pomp and Parade, with Shews, Games, Sports, Guns, Bells, Bonfires and Illuminations from one End of this Continent to the other.

The problem was he expected July 2nd to be Independence Day as that was the day the Second Continental Congress voted for independence, but the signing ceremony for the Declaration of Independence didn’t happen until two days later so because July 4th appears on the Declaration, it became the date we celebrate Independence.

I know some people complain that the meaning of the day is lost in the barbecues and the fireworks, but they have forgotten John Adams’ hope. We are celebrating exactly as he wished. Flags are waving everywhere. Families get together to celebrate and to break bread, albeit hot dog rolls. Fireworks illuminate the sky. Baseball is played on small town fields and in huge stadiums. Drums beat the cadence in parades. We sing rousing songs celebrating America and our freedom. We also sing heartfelt songs about what America means to us. We are many sorts of people, we Americans. We don’t all look the same, eat the same foods or dress in the same way, but we all celebrate today and we share a love of country. Happy Birthday, America, from all of us Americans.

“The will of the people is the only legitimate foundation of any government, and to protect its free expression should be our first object.”

July 4, 2012

It’s raining but a summer rain which is almost gentle. I’m watching The Green Slime, a science fiction movie from 1968. The credits were accompanied by a wonderfully bad theme song. The plot is simple: astronauts have to blow up an asteroid on its way to Earth, but unbeknownst to them, they bring back the slime which turns them into crazed killers.

Today is, of course, the 4th of July, a day we celebrate the anniversary of declaring our independence. My memory is filled with celebrations for the 4th of July. One year, when I was little, I sat on the back steps and watched the fireworks bursting in the sky from the next town over. Starting when I was twelve and continuing until I was sixteen, I marched in the Wakefield parade. I was a member of St. Patrick’s Shamrocks drill team. Most years it was really hot, but the longest street was tree-lined which gave us a reprieve. Later, when I was an adult, I’d go up to my parents’ house, and we’d go watch that same parade. We’d set our chairs under one of those trees. On the morning of the parade, the street resembled a science fiction movie where all the people had disappeared leaving behind them empty chairs: they were there to reserve the best spots. After the parade, we’d have a barbecue. My mother made her deviled eggs and potato salad while my father tended the grill. The last few years I’ve spent with friends who would also have a barbecue with deviled eggs, and they’d get creative and serve interesting drinks. One year the drinks were blue, in keeping with the occasion of course. When I was in Ghana, we celebrated the American holidays. The 4th of July had no fireworks and no barbecue, it had friends getting together, a perfect way to spend the day.

This rain has me staying home today, but I’ll watch my traditional 4th of July movie: Independence Day. Usually Jaws is part of the double bill but this year it’s 1776, a favorite movie of mine. I’m going to barbecue but, alas, no deviled eggs.