Tuesday, July 04, 2006

"Born on the Fourth of July"

It just seems appropriate that I make some comments here about the day ie. Independence Day. I do have feeling for the day even though we won't be celebrating in any of the more popular ways today ie. barbeque, picnic, concert, family gathering, parade, live fireworks etc. We have done all those in the past and enjoyed them greatly. We have fond memories of a number of 4ths, picnic blankets, games etc. But, this day will be a more quiet, an introspective Independence Day where we will comtemplate that, Independence.

I have an email service or two that sends me current topics daily. Knowledge News and On This day...both had appropriate offerings. I'll pass those highlights along in case some of my vast readership doesn't receive those downloads. The great patriotic song, "America the Beautiful"was published in "The Congregationalist" on this day in 1895. The poem, then, was written by a Wellesley College English professor, Katharine Lee Bates to commemorate the Fourth of July. In Wisconsin, where our sister, her husband and family are celebrating the 4th, it is Indian Rights Day. In 1776 the Continental Congress adopted the Declaration of Independence. "America" was written by Dr. Samuel Francis Smith, was sung in public for the first time in Boston on this day in 1832. The 49 and 50-star flags were unfurled on this day in the consecutive years of 1959 and '60 in Philadelphia. President Lyndon Johnson signed the Freedom of Information Act in 1966 on this day. The U.S. Military Academy at West Point officially opened on this day in 1802. Construction began on the Erie Canal to connect Lake Erie and the Hudson River on this day in 1817. "I got a mule her name is Sal..." And, Henry David Thoreau began his two-year simple living experiment at Walden Pond, near Concord, MA on this day in 1845. Casey Kasem hosted American Top 40 on the radio for the first time on this day in 1070. And NASA's Mars Pathfinder became the first U.S. spacecraft to land on Mars in more than two decades on this day in 1997. Other things happened that weren't so patriotic.

Some interesting people were born on the 4th of July: Nathaniel Hawthorne, Stephen Foster, Calvin Coolidge, Rube Goldberg, Louis Armstrong, Mitch Miller, Ann Landers, Neil Simon. The Arts are truly represented. I read yesterday that Cohan, of "I'm a Yankee Doodle Dandy" fame, (the musical) and where"...born on the 4th of July"...came from was actually born on July 3rd.
Three of our Presidents died on this day: John Adams, 2nd President in 1826, Thomas Jefferson, 3rd President, on the exact same day as John Adams above and James Monroe, 5th president in 1831.

Having taught school for so many years and mostly 5th grade, I had more than my share of the subject. Social Studies in that grade in Calif. schools is The U.S. (4th is Calif., 6th originally was South America and then it was switched to the World and ancient history). So we did plays about it, memorized poems about it, sang/learned songs about it. Most every Flag Day (June 14) we were in charge of an assembly out by the school flag where we did all the honors and sang, "Your a Grand Ol' Flag".("where there's never a boast or a brag") I taught when we still had to start the class day with the Pledge of Allegiance. In later years we had those who didn't participate but I asked them to stand. We even tried, one year, to learn it in Espanol...bad idea now to be P.C. They all weren't happy or proud times ie. in class, with the TV on when Kennedy was Assassinated and when the Shuttle with a teacher aboard exploded. Both times I had to explain to the class through my tears.

I got an email from an old friend about the meaning of the Flag draped coffin. Having been through that with my dad's flag, I thought it was very interesting. I had taught how to fold the flag respectfully but had never thought that each fold had a meaning. By the way, I don't know the source of this but it gives you something to think about: The reason for the 21 gun salute at military funerals is that's the total number you get when you add 1776 across individually. When the flag is taken off the casket it is folded maticulously 13 times and that's not to represent the original 13 colonies. Oh no...(?)
1st fold, in half long ways is the symbol of life
2nd fold, long ways again is the symbol of the belief in eternal life(?)
3rd fold, first triangle, honors veterans departing the ranks still living
4th fold, first triangle fold over, in God we trust in times of war or peace
5th fold, triangle fold over, Stephen Decatur, "Our Country...right or wrong."
6th fold, triangle fold over, people's hearts and their saying of the pledge
7th fold, triangle fold over, tribute to the Armed Forces and their protection of our flag/country
8th fold, last stripe triangle fold, into the valley of the shadow of death...?
9th fold, first triangle into the blue field, motherhood, devotion/development of character
10th fold, second triangular fold in total blue, fatherhood, giving his sons and daughters/defense
11th fold, third triangle in field of all blue, all stars, God in the heavens...?
12th fold, fourth triangle of all blue, eternity...?
13th fold, makes a square before remaining flap is tucked in, "In God We Trust"
When complete it looks alittle like a soldier's hat and reminds us of the patriot's hats who originally fought for our country. So the Star-Spangled Banner is a symbol of our country, its liberty and freedom. Kind of a strange shock to me that our congress recently had to vote on the legality of the symbolic burning of our flag and only one vote kept it from being a crime. That is extreme freedom to take a liberty don't you think?

What is a Patriot?...now days? Many definitions exemplified by the actions of those who volunteer to protect and serve our country I'm sure. Knowledge News gives us the example of William Livingston in 1753, a lawyer, militiaman during the American Revolution, New Jersey's first governor and essayist. In the "Independent Relfector"he wrote: "He is a Patriot who prefers the Happiness of the Whole, to his own private advantage...the Public Welfare is his object, whose zeal, chastised by reflection, is calm steady and undaunted..." ie. no narrow partisan, no party propagandist, no pursuer of pork...setting aside personal and local interests. Duty to Country is the highest calling...next to the Duty we owe to a Supreme Being. Livingston goes on to say that Love of Country without action isn't enough. Patriotism requires service --love and labor. Mental labor too. Serving the common good requires deliberation, thinking hours that lead to constructive efforts as opposed to knee-jerk responses. Disagreements are allowed. The common good is no monlithic truth. It is a constant negotiation among the different and often conflicting ideas of the community. Livingston even points to a patriotism of protest, noting that when the country's leaders go wrong, the patriot morns for their vices, and exerts his abilities to work a reformation. Thomas Paine pointed out in 1777..."All we want to know in America is simply this, who is for Independence, and who is not?" For me, this still rings true today. Bob!This is me a year ago. Laguna Life Guard Tower/Flag
You see why we're not known for our photographic expertise.


At 2:24 PM, Blogger BOB! Your Life Preserver said...

You may have noticed that there are no "quote" marks in this post. I was responding to a challenge set forth by a loved one. Yes, I can write without the overuse or incorrect use of that particular punctuation. I used to teach it. In the previous post on "Snakes" I did slip in a few too many because "I had my tongue so far up my cheek" my vision was disturbed. Quotes would indicate a "lack of ownership" ie. responsibility for something said or inferred. My challenge to this challenger is now to tell me how many quote marks should be legitimately used in this post? ie. actual words of people/famous patriots etc. I've counted. Have fun! Ellipsis Man!...

At 6:10 PM, Blogger BOB! Your Life Preserver said...

Sorry, time's up. If you guessed a "patriotic number" like 13, you were right. I've put in the quotation marks now in red, white and blue. Bob!

At 3:36 PM, Blogger Trevor said...

Yes...there were considerably LESS quotes in this post than usual! Now can you write a post that contains NO QUOTES (legitimate or otherwise) at all? This would mean no quoting other source material, no naming other publications or titles!


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