Monday, July 04, 2011

Happy Fourth of July!

Yes, Dear Readers, today is Independence Day here in the good old US of A. A day for picnics and barbecues, parades, fireworks, and finishing the assembly of swings. It's the traditional high point of summer, located at the beginning of the dog days, and it begins the long slide to autumn and winter.

It's the day for hyperconservative wingnuts to wear silly tricorn hats, wave flags, and misquote the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution, neither of which they have probably ever actually read and understood.

July 4th is not the day the Declaration of Independence was signed ... that was July 2nd ... but it was the day it was formally adopted and published by the Continental Congress. Founder and second President John Adams always thought that July 2nd should have been the date of celebration, but in 1870 Congress designated the fourth as the national holiday. That was back when Congress could occasionally actually do something.

July 4th is also the date in 1802 on which the US Military Academy at West Point (commonly known simply as "West Point") was opened. The early leaders of the country had originally resisted instituting a military academy, believing that it was one of the trappings of European-style aristocracy that the Revolutionary War had been fought to erase.

And this is also the date on which American poet Walt Whitman published his classic collection titled Leaves of Grass. This extract from the preface of is worth reading on this national holiday ...

"This is what you shall do; Love the earth and sun and the animals, despise riches, give alms to every one that asks, stand up for the stupid and crazy, devote your income and labor to others, hate tyrants, argue not concerning God, have patience and indulgence toward the people, take off your hat to nothing known or unknown or to any man or number of men, go freely with powerful uneducated persons and with the young and with the mothers of families, read these leaves in the open air every season of every year of your life, re-examine all you have been told at school or church or in any book, dismiss whatever insults your own soul, and your very flesh shall be a great poem and have the richest fluency not only in its words but in the silent lines of its lips and face and between the lashes of your eyes and in every motion and joint of your body."

Have a safe and happy Fourth of July! More thoughts tomorrow.



Mike said...

Happt 4th.

And by the way. That Whitman guy sounds like a socialist commy.

Mike said...

Happy. Happy happy happy.

KathyA said...

Hope you had a lovely 4th, Bilbo!