Sunday, July 05, 2009

The Fifth of July

Yesterday was the Fourth of July, America's premier national holiday and the traditional high point of the summer. There were parades and picnics, family reunions were held, much baseball was played, and huge fireworks displays were offered in those communities which can still afford them. Here in Pittsburgh, where we're visiting my father, the weather was warm and cloudy, with a nice breeze. It was a good, traditional, American Fourth of July.

But today is the Fifth of July.

If you're the Fifth of July, you get no respect.

Nobody goes to a movie called "Born on the Fifth of July." There are no parades and fireworks, just the complaints of a lot of grumpy people who have to clean up the mess from the previous day. Stores don't have blowout Fifth of July sales. Even all the red, white and blue bunting looks a little limp and sad, and the flags don't seem to fly as high and float as proudly on the summer breeze.

So let's make the Fifth of July feel a little better. What happened on the Fifth of July?

In 1943, the largest tank battle in history - the Battle of Kursk - began. What the Germans called "Operation Citadel" pitted some 50 German divisions against an enormous Russian force, and led to a decisive defeat for the Germans.

Showman P.T. ("there's a sucker born every minute") Barnum and American Naval hero David ("damn the torpedoes - full speed ahead!") Farragut were born on July 5th, as was former French prime minister George Pompidou.

On July 5th, 1865, William Booth established the Christian Mission in London's East End. The Christian Mission in 1878 became what we know today as The Salvation Army - one of the world's major charitable organizations.

Swing Era bandleader Harry James and architect Walter Gropius, founder of the Bauhaus school of design, both died on July 5th.

On July 5th, 1946, French designer Louis Reard unveiled a daring two-piece swimsuit at a swimming pool in Paris. He named it the "bikini," after the location of the recent nuclear weapons tests at Bikini Atoll in the Pacific.

And on July 5th, 1687, Isaac Newton published his book, Mathematical Principles of Natural Philosophy (Principia Mathematica). The book contains Newton’s laws of motion, which are part of the foundation of modern physics.

So let's show a little love to the Fifth of July. Even if you'd prefer the fifth of bourbon, ha, ha.

Agnes and I will be heading home later this morning, so please try to avoid us on the highways if you're traveling, too. The drive up here was stressful enough...I could use a break.

Have a good day. More thoughts tomorrow.



Jean-Luc Picard said...

Here's to the Fifth!

Melissa B. said...

Happy 5th of July! I'm still recovering from our trek to the US Capitol for a little Aretha Franklin, Barry Manilow and lots of fireworks...

John said...

Happy 5th!

Mike said...

Here's to Louis Reard!

SusieQ said...

Wasn't Rodney Dangerfield born on the 5th of July. Could explain why that date gets no respect. ;-)

Leslie David said...

Someone is having a Cinco de Julio party.