Monday, July 5, 2010

Independence Day

Beyond fireworks, which I love, and corn on the cob, my children are learning that Independence Day is celebrated, not just because it is a wonderful mid summer holiday that keeps Dad at home and brings the Uncles to Chicago, but as the day that the Second Continental Congress approved the Declaration of Independence.

But then originally those wild souls thought that future picnics, fireworks and parades would all take place on July 2nd, the day that they voted to approve a resolution of independence. My personal favorite patriot, John Adams, wrote to his wife Abigail,

The second day of July, 1776, will be the most memorable epoch in the history of America. I am apt to believe that it will be celebrated by succeeding generations as the great anniversary festival. It ought to be commemorated as the day of deliverance, by solemn acts of devotion to God Almighty. It ought to be solemnized with pomp and parade, with shows, games, sports, guns, bells, bonfires, and illuminations, from one end of this continent to the other, from this time forward forever more.
Incredibly bright, well read, and rude to the French, he was off a few days; the games and guns and bonfires now happen on the fourth of July, although we all know that it is a holiday weekend and the fun lasts more than one day. In recent years it seems that any acknowledgement of the holiday beyond Roman Candles has been a reenactment of Memorial Day. Barack Obama, in a holiday email, reminds us to "honor the men and women in our armed forces whose immeasurable bravery and sacrifice have made our country what it is today".

Yes, but let us not forget the traitors who risked certain death at the hands of King George to establish the country that we live in today. In this time of flag waving American bravado, when an entire political movement honors in name a rebellion aimed at protesting taxation without representation, and yet two thirds of Americans cannot name one Supreme Court justice, it is important to remember the vital role that history plays in our understanding of the American political system, the players and the principals on which it it based.

The dog is named Eleanor Roosevelt, noted, but read John, Paul, George and Ben
to your children. History can be fun, especially when written by Lane Smith in an engaging and silly way. And remember, it was not the British that were coming, it was the Redcoats, so said Paul Revere.

How much do you know about the American Revolution? Find out here.

And why is John Adams my favorite patriot? He had an amazing wife, whose opinion he valued, and he defended the British soldiers following the Boston Massacre. John Adams knew that everyone deserved a fair trial, following a personal code of conduct before the Sixth Amendment made it law. John Adams would not have parked his horse in a handicap spot, I am certain.

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