December 23, 2012

Slice of PIE: Independence Day Is WRONG!

After watching “The Goop On the Girl”, an episode of our family favorite TV show “Bones”, in which the intern Daisy reminds everyone in the show and the viewing world that “if you’re going to celebrate christmas, you should be doing it in March”; I sighed deeply and…Well, I decided to poke into other holidays we celebrate with gusto – St. Patrick’s Day, Thanksgiving, Easter, Martin Luther King’s Birthday, and President’s Day. As Christmas is near and dear to my heart, I thought I’d pick on the one that’s nearest and dearest to our ‘Merican hearts.

Independence Day.

The Fourth of July is immortalized as the day the American British Colonies declared their independence from England’s rule. It has such a nice ring, it even looks good: The Fourth of July. Much better than The Second of July.

“Have a nice Fourth!” So smooth.

“Have a nice Second!” So clumsy. Ugly, really.

Unfortunately, the Second happens to be the truth: “During the American Revolution, the legal separation of the Thirteen Colonies from Great Britain occurred on July 2, 1776, when the Second Continental Congress voted to approve a resolution of independence that had been proposed in June by Richard Henry Lee of Virginia declaring the United States independent from Great Britain.” Or was it later than that? “...though the wording of the Declaration was approved on July 4, the date of its signing was August 2...” and add this, too: “the famous signed version of the Declaration was created after July 19...”

OK, so what’s two measly days? Who cares – not like it’s three MONTHS!

How about the Stars and Stripes? That’s authentically Fourth of July, right? On June 14, 1777...the Second Continental Congress passed the Flag Resolution which stated: ‘Resolved, that the flag of the United States be thirteen stripes, alternate red and white; that the union be thirteen stars, white in a blue field...tradition holds that the new flag was first hoisted in June 1777…[and] was most probably meant to define a naval ensign. In the late 18th century, the notion of national flag did not yet exist, or was only nascent.”


“The Star Spangled Banner”?

Sorry. The song was written some time between 6:00 A.M. on 13 September 1814 and 7:00 AM 14 September 1814 during the British bombardment of Fort McHenry near Baltimore, Maryland during the War of 1812. Facts: the POEM was written then by Francis Scott Key. Music was written by a Brit named John Stafford Smith in 1780 and was already a popular tune called “The Anacreontic Song” (or “To Anacreon in Heaven”). “The song gained popularity throughout the 19th century and bands played it during public events, such as July 4th celebrations. On July 27, 1889, Secretary of the Navy Benjamin F. Tracy signed General Order #374, making ‘The Star-Spangled Banner’ the official tune to be played at the raising of the flag.”

OK…fireworks! Invented in China during the Eastern Zhou Dynasty in the 7th Century BC, they made their way into the new USA a year (or whatever) after the signing of the Declaration of Independence (whenever that was). Stuff was blowing up during the Revolutionary War, right? That’s…sorta close: “In 1777, thirteen gunshots were fired, once at morning and again as evening fell, on July 4 in Bristol, Rhode Island. Philadelphia celebrated the first anniversary in a manner a modern American would find quite familiar: an official dinner for the Continental Congress, toasts, 13-gun salutes, speeches, prayers, music, parades, troop reviews, and fireworks. Ships were decked with red, white, and blue bunting.”

So, for those of you who like to point out that Christmas is an appropriation of the Roman holiday of Saturnalia and that Jesus was probably born in March (what month is that according to the ancient Jewish calendar of Jesus’ time? Or do we use the Julian (which was invented in 45 BC) or the Gregorian (wasn’t invented until 1582) or was He born during the Mensis intercalaris? or Nisan 14; and Yule logs are Druid things in addition to mistletoe; Christmas trees are German and lefse and pickled herring are Norwegian; Santa Claus is…well, patterned after a 4th century Greek Christian bishop of Myra in Turkey who was well-known for helping the poor...take a good hard look at our venerable Fourth of July, American Independence Day and make sure you tell everyone about the ambiguity of our National Holiday.

Oh, and don’t forget to party on the correct day: The Fourteenth of June? The Second of July? The Fourth of July? The Nineteenth of July? The Twenty-seventh of July? The Second of August? The Fourteenth of September? What day should you really celebrate Independence Day? By the way, what day did a copy of the Declaration of Independence actually reach King George III telling him the Colonies were no longer his? August? September? October? November? Maybe March 1777...

Just a hotdog, a little potato salad, and apple pie for thought. (Huh. How did THEY come to be associated with The Fourth of July? I wonder...I just know someone's going to be offended by my cheeky piece...)

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