Happy Independence Day

July 4th, 2008

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!

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6 Responses

  1. Anonymous says:

    Wow, I hadn’t heard of that movie. I love historical movies, so thank you for recommending it! Happy Independence Day! :D

  2. BruceMcF says:

    Its been a while … but AFAIR, little Yuri in that movie?

    Hope people don’t get confused by the title of the post and get Independence Day instead of 1776 … don’t recall much Yuri in Independence Day either, and at least 1776 had some redeeming qualities to excuse the shortfall.

  3. No Yuri. It’s a complete off-topic post, obviously. But it is my blog and I can do that, once in a while. :-)

  4. Happy Birthday, U.S.A.!!

    Not being American, and being from one of those crappy little British colonies that WAITED for Independence, I can so admire the revolutionaries who stopped the Thirteen Colonies from being exploited by Britain.

    And I’ll always admire Americans for fighting for their rights. It’s inspiring, as un-Yuri as it might have been.

  5. Anonymous says:

    No country had ever done that before. Ever.

    “…for, as long as but a hundred of us remain alive, never will we on any conditions be brought under English rule. It is in truth not for glory, nor riches, nor honours that we are fighting, but for freedom – for that alone, which no honest man gives up but with life itself.”

    Scotland, Declaration of Arbroat, 1320.

    Not that Independance Day isn’t worth to celebrate, but don’t forget your historical paragons, there~
    The guys who wrote the Independance Declaration sure knew them.

    And now party on. =)

  6. Anonymous says:

    Rights, eh. There were those of course. But by what I’ve read of it, it was really more sheer economics – as in taxes and customs tariffs and whatnot. See, that funny little long-term great-power race Britain had going with France (sometimes known as “the Second Hundred Years’ War”) had the problem of being ruinously expensive to both, and the cash to pay for the ships and fortresses and soldiers and whatever had to come from *somewhere*. And putting the tax squeeze on the colonies was obviously less politically suicidal than doing it in the home country (not that the rates didn’t go up there too of course)… plus there were a sundry other conflicts of interests to not help things any, starting with the Indians.

    Then again, to put things in perspective: the sheer strain of that great-power rivalry in the end cost the British crown its North American colonies (expanded to include what had until the recent Seven Years’ War been French Canada); for its French peers, the ultimate cost was *the* Revolution (and that was just the first attempt at such that actually succeeded, as the disgruntled army defected)…

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