Today is the day Americans celebrate the choice, more than 200 years ago, to break with England and become an independent nation. Most people really don’t think about that decision too much, but if you take a look at it objectively, it took some serious balls. No country had ever done that before. Ever.
I sometimes wonder how different history might have been if our founding fathers hadn’t made that decision. How long might it have been for any other country to take that leap, if ever? The French people revolted in part because they had a precedent – the Americans had successfully destroyed the mutually agreed-upon illusion that Kings were akin to Gods.
I remember in 1976 when this country was celebrating that decision all year long as part of the Bicentennial, and every freaking class, club and organization I was in did *something* related to 1776. During that year I visited Philadelphia (site of the signing of the Declaration of Independence,) Washington, D.C, (where I saw the actual document, along with the Constitution – another outrageously ballsy document,) and a host of colonial and Revolutionary-period sites. I live in a town whose nickname is “The Crossroads of the Revolution” and which has several houses where George Washington slept, his headquarters for two years during the war, and many a battlefield.
In 1976, I was also given the opportunity to watch what I still consider to be one of the best movies ever made. 1776 is a musical based on a Broadway play. It recounts the days leading up to the creation, passage and signing of the Declaration of Independence and if you have never seen it, I really recommend you run out and do so *immediately*. Of course its fictitious, but much of the dialogue and situations are taken directly from letters written by the members of that Congress. So for a fiction, it’s pretty factual. And most of the songs are pretty great, too. :-)
If you have ever wondered about the whole American Revolution thing, or if you’re not American and really don’t get the big deal, definitely watch 1776. Every year I watch it on July 4, and every year I’m reminded that despite our current administration trying so hard to destroy everything we’ve worked for for 200 years, being American is actually quite wonderful.
Happy Independence Day!