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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.
Some Independence Day trivia for your enjoyment.
We’re celebrating with friends and will be enjoying my wife’s pound cake with strawberries, blueberries, and whipped cream. And on this day, we’ll do it without irony or sarcasm.
No fireworks graphics this year though. The wind is up and I’m a little nervous. I like Joe Heiney’s suggestion on Thank Jah of a laser/smoke show in lieu of fireworks. Maybe next year.
Image comes from Patriots for Peace.
Addendum: We celebrated with a family who owns a deep sand volleyball court on which they set off some cool but safe fireworks. My daughter was kind of freaked and said she was scared for her brother when he took sparklers to play with. She didn’t want any part of them.
Fireworks have come a long way since my childhood when you would buy that boring standardized pack of Red Devil Fireworks from the Boy Scout booths. They would contain several “piccolo pete” type items which each sent up a nearly identical cone of sparks, sometimes slightly varying in color. And they’d whistle. Then there would be that pinwheel thing you attached to a tree or telephone booth that never worked right. You’d have those little cherry bomb looking items that would spin around and change colors looking like a flower. You had the smoking cabin, the fascination of which I never quite got. And you’d have an assortment of sparklers and snakes. Same thing every year.
I remember one year on Montara Beach when the whole beach was lit up, mostly with fountain type fireworks, with the occasional illegal bottle rocket or firecracker bought in Chinatown or an out-of-state Indian reservation. You won’t see that today as fireworks are banned (for use, but not for sale if you’re the Boy Scouts) in San Mateo County.
A few miles to the south at Pillar Point we could see official fireworks complete with mortars, except that most of the time it was foggy so you’d see the shots and a faint glow and somebody would say, “oooh, I bet that one was good!”
I can’t help but think of an interview with Allen Ginsberg in the documentary Growing Up in America about leftist icons from the 60s reminiscing on the successes and failures of the counterculture. Ginsberg’s conclusion was that the spiritual wing of the counterculture erred in adopting the eastern chant of “ohm.” Americans, being influenced by wide open spaces and 4th of July fireworks were more inclined towards “ahhh,” and so the Buddhist mantra should have been adapted for America and made “aaaaaahhhmmmm” instead of “oooooohhhhmmmmm.”
Damn! The opportunities lost.
A nice Hank Sims interview of local historian Ray Raphael regarding his new book Founding Myths: The Stories That Hide Our Patriotic Past. 5 questions though? All the other interviewees get like 12 or 15 questions. Figures that SoHum would get the short end as usual!
The book is another shot in the trench war debate between the notion of “peoples history” and “great man theory history.” We learn for instance that Paul Revere’s famous ride is fiction, that Jefferson was not regarded as the demi-god of American liberty really until Lincoln built him up, and that Patrick Henry never said, “Give me liberty or give me death!” (well, I haven’t actually read the book yet, but these items are mentioned in Amazon reviews). And apparently, Independence Day should really be celebrated on July 2 instead.
These are just aspects of the larger theme however, which was summarized by the author in an earlier article:
Although textbooks in recent years have certainly become more inclusive, giving the nod to multiculturalism is not synonymous with getting the story right. We’ve come a long way, baby—but we have a long way to go.
Since our stories need protagonists, we marshal forth heroes and heroines to represent the people of the times. Although selected for their uncommon features, these few are made to signify the whole. George Washington, Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Jefferson—we speak of these illustrious individuals as the Revolutionaries, and we use them to stand for all the other Revolutionaries, even as we proclaim they are special, not like the others. These people are then called “leaders;” all others become mere followers. A handful of celebrated personalities make things happen, the rest only tag along; a few write the scripts, the rest just deliver their lines. This turns history on its head. In reality, so-called leaders emerge from the people—they gain influence by expressing views that others espouse. In the telling of history, however, the genesis of leadership is easily forgotten.
The way we learn about the birth of our nation is a case in point. If we teach our students that a few special people forged American freedom, we misrepresent, and even contradict, the spirit of the American Revolution. Our country owes its existence to the political activities of groups of dedicated patriots who acted in concert. Throughout the rebellious colonies, citizens organized themselves into an array of local committees, congresses, and militia units that unseated British authority and assumed the reins of government.
So far I have not found any reviews by conservative scholars. Still looking.
Photo lifted from the NCJ story.