The flag, fireworks and history that make up America’s Fourth of July.
“My God! How little do my countrymen know what precious blessings they are in possession of, and which no other people on earth enjoy. I confess I had no idea of it myself. While we shall see multiple instances of Europeans going to live in America, I will venture to say no man now living will ever witness an instance of an American removing to settle in Europe and continuing there.”
— Thomas Jefferson, in a letter from Paris to James Monroe, 1785 —
We Americans are a special breed of citizen. Other countries may hate us, disrespect us, even try to kill us….that is because they also envy us. Our freedoms and accomplishments, protected by citizen soldiers, are things of understandable envy. Fellow citizens complaining about the bad of America do not have a judicious understanding about the good of America. And if anything, Americans are fiercely independent.
Perhaps our defiant independence was forever set in stone by a 1776 document we call The Declaration of Independence. The main author of this masterpiece document for a young America, Thomas Jefferson, was himself young, only 33 years old at the time of the signing. Only one man signed on July 4, 1776: John Hancock. All others signed later.
The signers were highly educated. Seven were educated at Harvard, 4 at Yale, 4 at Princeton, and 4 from William & Mary. One of the signers, George Wythe, was Thomas Jefferson’s professor at William & Mary.
Only two signers, Thomas Jefferson and John Adams, would later serve as President of the United States. They both died on July 4, 1826, the 50th anniversary of the Declaration. Firecrackers popping off in the streets became a celebratory tradition, but made the horses miserable. At the time of the signing, our population was about 2.5 million.
Benjamin Franklin did not want the American Bald Eagle as our national symbol. He wanted the turkey. In a 1784 letter to his daughter, Sarah Bache, he complained, “For my own part I wish the Bald Eagle had not been chosen the Representative of our Country. He is a bird of bad moral character. He does not get his living honestly. You may have seen him perched on some dead tree near the river, where, too lazy to fish for himself, he watches the labor of the Fishing Hawk. And when that diligent bird has at length taken a fish, and is bearing it to his nest for the support of his mate and young ones, the Bald Eagle pursues him and takes it from him. I am on this account not displeased that the figure is not known as a Bald Eagle, but looks more like a Turkey. For in truth, the Turkey is in comparison a much more respectable bird, and withal a true original Native of America. He is besides, though a little vain and silly, a Bird of Courage, and would not hesitate to attack a grenadier of the British Guards who should presume to invade his farm yard with a red coat on.”
The word ‘Beer’ is often substituted for ‘Wine’ in a legendary quote by Benjamin Franklin, “Wine is proof that God loves us and wants us to be happy.” May I be so bold as to insinuate that Franklin’s proposal for a Turkey as our national symbol was rationalized under the influence of a lot of wine, or, perchance, from the shock of a lightning strike upon his cranium.
Firecrackers, beer, wine, and great food are still part of our Fourth of July celebration. We’ll wave Old Glory, 87.5% of which are imported from China. An estimated 14,000 fireworks displays will light up the skies on July 4, 97% of the fireworks imported from China.
Our Fourth of July cuisine, at least for now, is still American-made. Over 74 million Americans will fire up their grills for a barbecue. We will eat 700 million pounds of chicken and over 155 million hot dogs. Pork hot dogs originate in Iowa, Minnesota, or North Carolina. Around 20% of beef hot dogs, steaks, and burgers come from the Lone Star State, or most likely Nebraska or Kansas. 75% of the lettuce on your ta- ble comes from California and 71% of tomatoes from Florida or California. Spuds from Idaho or Washington will be used in your potato salad and potato chips, while 36% of your beans are produced in North Dakota.
So chow down on your American food on the Fourth, wave your Chinese-made American flag and set off a bunch of Chinese fireworks. I guess this is our America now, debt and the drainage of our wealth, scan- dals galore, unnecessary disharmony, a disingenuous media, and a corrupt Internal Revenue Service. We Americans have lost something. But we will rebound. Chinese-made or not, Old Glory still flutters over a free country.
As you sip a cold beer or burn your tongue on a hot hamburger July Fourth just remember we have men and women still in Afghanistan and even more en route, once again, to Iraq. They are the reason we still have hope.
“We may not be in the slightest danger of invasion, but if in an armed world we disarm, we shall count less and less in the councils of nations.”
— Walter Lippmann, 1915 —