Happy Independence Day! 😀
Today marks the 239th year of the signing of the Declaration of Independence. Written between the months of June and July 1776, this document was, quite literally, a declaration which announced that the thirteen American colonies considered themselves no longer part of Great Britain, and sought to break away from its rule. Congress had approved the document on July 2, 1776 and around fifty-six delegates, including future presidents John Adams and Thomas Jefferson, signed it two days later, on July 4th. Since then, the United States has never looked back, eventually moving on to become one of the most power and influential ex-colony nations in the world.
…and that, folks, is a crash course in United States History. Granted, I could go on more about the events that had led up to the colonies declaring independence (the Boston Massacre, protests, the Intolerable Acts, etc), as well as the technicalities of the Declaration of Independence (which consists of five long sections), but that would take too long and bore you to tears (frankly, that would bore me as well). But if you’re fascinated with American history pre-dating the nineteenth century, by all means scour the Internet. 😛
But just to go back a bit: I find it kind of interesting that we celebrate this significant historical moment on a day which, technically, isn’t the correct one. As previously stated, the Declaration of Independence was officially approved on July 2nd, which from that day ought to be the actual date to celebrate the national holiday. Instead, the Fourth of July is celebrated on, well, the fourth of July, on a day when the delegates had signed their names on the document.
Also, really: it wasn’t really necessary to have signed it, since Congress had already approved it for the new-found nation. I have to admit, the signing was a bit redundant, but perhaps the delegates wanted to make it even “more official,” you know, to stress the importance of this period in American history, perhaps also to take credit for making this happen at all. Might have been an egotistical move, but then again, that’s just pure speculation. *shrugs
But enough of the history. I’ve already credited the founding fathers with their deed, and now fast forward two centuries later to the present day. Although I don’t consider myself a huge patriotic person, I have to admit that America, despite being not quite 250 years old, has come a long way since breaking free from Britain back in the day.
Some more information about the United States to bore you:
The United States is a nation of fifty states, with forty-eight contiguous states (aka located on the continent of the country) and two of them (Alaska and Hawaii) off on the West Coast at two polarizing ends (north and south). It is the 4th largest nation in the world (behind Russia, Canada, and China) and has one of the highest GDPs and human population (over 320 million as of 2015) to back it up. It is also home to a vastly diverse population, whether based on race, ethnicity, immigration status, gender and sexual orientation, etc. Like they say in Texas (the second largest state in the U.S.), “everything is bigger.” In America, that is.
I mean, really, we’re the leading nation in all things political, economic, and even cultural: I have talked with people from other nations (e.g. France, India, Canada, Mexico, heck, even England) on their perspectives of American culture, and it’s everywhere. We’ve saturated the globe with our media, from fast food chains to movies to TV shows to everyday slang (“Hey, what’s up?” “How you doin’, dawg?”), and so forth. Even crazier? Many of the things that have come about and are familiar to foreigners have occurred within the past sixty, seventy years- only a fraction of the nation’s even-shorter history. Mind-blown, much?
With that being said, what do “typical” Americans do to celebrate Independence Day? Even if you have never been to the U.S., you might be aware of the “American” tradition of fireworks, barbecue, and family-friend gatherings. All of that is pretty much true: I suppose that it’s fairly “American” of us to do all of that stuff during the holiday. I’ve done them before, getting together with friends and family for a lunch-afternoon affair and then heading over at night to the nearby park to catch the fireworks. Never really liked how loud the explosions were, but the lights were beautiful to look at. 🙂 And unfortunately, I haven’t gone to see fireworks in a really long time, since now they’re banned in my hometown (due to fire hazards and all of that wonderful stuff. Bah.) 😛
At the same time, though, as I got older, I started to become more…skeptical of the whole idea of Fourth of July. More specifically, American patriotism. I am well aware that there are some people out there who love America, are proud to be American, and so forth. I don’t think it’s a bad thing to be that way; in fact, it’s perfectly fine. However, it does have the not-so-good connotation of being Anglo-centric and ignorant to other cultures besides America’s. Especially right now there’s so many problems going on in the nation (issues of race, gender, sexuality, etc) that the idea of patriotism has been turned on its head. I know that all of this talk about gun-control and racism and LGBTQA issues is ugly, but to blame it on the idea of patriotism (and not on racism or homophobia) isn’t right, either. I’m not saying that we should become full-blood American patriots, but rather make sure that we know the distinctions between being patriotic and ignorant towards others.
Dang, that got deep way too quickly. Especially for a post on a holiday. But then again, it is a huge national celebration, and with that comes controversy. Like anything in this world, really.
But really, enjoy the Fourth of July celebrations. Appreciate how far America has come in its brief history. Put aside the cynicism for one day, and just…have fun. 🙂
– The Finicky Cynic
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