Tuesday, July 04, 2017

July 4th

This is the flag that flew above Ft. McHenry during the war of 1812. It's the flag that inspired Francis Scott Key to write what became our national anthem.

I saw this flag for the first time when I was 7 years old. My dad took us to the Smithsonian and there it was; I'd never seen a flag that immense. The shock of its size and maimed condition remains with me to this very day.

I imagined the tears and holes were from the battle. They're not (well, not all of them.) They're from souvenir hunters!  [See the section on snippings here.]

I'm not a huge fan of Aaron Sorkin. He's one of those writers that I appreciate less and less the more I hear his work.  But he got one thing resoundingly right in the speech he wrote for Andrew Shepherd in the movie The American President.
America isn't easy. America is advanced citizenship. You gotta want it bad, 'cause it's gonna put up a fight. It's gonna say "You want free speech? Let's see you acknowledge a man whose words make your blood boil, who's standing center stage and advocating at the top of his lungs that which you would spend a lifetime opposing at the top of yours.

I think this year has been a real test of how bad we want democracy.

Have a great 4th of July.


AJ Blythe said...

Wishing everyone a Happy 4th July.

My 4th July is coming to an end, but was just a normal work day with no fireworks (unless you count fighting siblings). Enjoy your day, no matter how you spend it.

french sojourn said...

Happy 4th to all my chums over on the reef, and those having a long weekend on Carkoon. Be safe, be strong, and be well fellow Reiders, and damnit...write!

Cheers Hank.

Carolynnwith2Ns said...

Never forget, though divided at times, United States is US.
Happy Birthday America.

Melanie Sue Bowles said...

Interesting. I just saw this quote from Aaron Sorkin: "The trick is to follow the rules of classic storytelling. Drama is basically about one thing: Somebody wants something, and something or someone is standing in the way of him getting it. What he wants—the money, the girl, the ticket to Philadelphia—doesn't really matter. But whatever it is, the audience has to want it for him."

And, yes. Powerful words in that The American President speech.

OT: I've never read Lee Child. But I found a few Reacher novels while cleaning out my brother's apartment. I'm going to spend the next couple of days getting to know Jack.

No cookout. No party. No fireworks. Just us and the animal family. Contemplating life and death and what we do with our time here on earth. I may make my mother's potato salad. Yum.

I love this blog.

CynthiaMc said...

Usually we go to our town's Olde Fashioned 4th of July celebration. Today I just want to be home, cook hamburgers, watch Jaws and 1776 and catch up with family.

My dad and his twin sister were 4th of July babies. I can never watch fireworks without hearing him say "These are mine, but I'll share them with you."

Re: free speech - the most dangerous thing anyone can say is "You can't say that." The most dangerous thing you can do is listen to them. I would always rather hear what someone truly thinks than have it lurking underneath.

Kitty said...

I never really considered what freedom of speech entailed until the mid-1970s when the National Socialist Party of America -- the Nazis -- wanted to march in the Village of Skokie, Illinois, a Jewish community home to many Holocaust survivors. The Illinois State Court ruled they could march and that the swastika was a form of free speech. That opened my eyes to the fact that one person's idea of free speech may not be another person's.

Theresa said...

I enjoy hearing the NPR announcers read the Declaration of Independence. That's my favorite way to kick off the holiday.

Have a good one.

Susan said...

Happy Independence Day, friends. Today I'll be spending the day with family and friends who, after the last few weeks, I'm finding myself increasingly thankful for. Then tonight when I'm home with my muttfaces, I'll take part in my own tradition of watching one of my favorite movies, Yankee Doodle Dandy with James Cagney.

It's a different feeling, this July 4. Maybe more precious in many ways.

Janet: Have you seen Sorkin's The Newsroom? It might be my favorite thing he's ever done, and I hold The American President and The West Wing in high esteem. It's powerful and pertinent, especially now. Highly recommend.

E.M. Goldsmith said...

Wonderful post this 4th of July. Happy Independence Day my fellow Americans.

Elissa M said...

I've seen that flag a number of times, though it required special trips to DC. The last time was about 27 years ago (now I feel old) and they had it covered with a panel that raises every now and then (don't recall the timing) so one can have a glimpse.

Today is the first time in a long time I won't be performing for the celebrations. I contracted pneumonia while serving jury duty back in May and my lungs have only recently recovered (I play clarinet and sax). I'll still be going into town for the fireworks (60 mile round-trip). Before the jury selection started, we were shown a film about the history of jury trials (starting in England) and why the framers of our Constitution were eager to include provisions for such. Freedom of speech is not the only important freedom spelled out in that document.

And I want to send out a great big thank you to all those who are working on this Federal Holiday (even though they won't see it)--especially those whose jobs are to protect our Constitutional freedoms.

Colin Smith said...

As we all celebrate The Great Rebellion on this side of the pond, I wish my fellow Americans a happy 4th! To my dear, beloved brethren in blood on the other side of the pond... nyaa nyaa nya nyaa nyaaa!! ;-)

Seriously, though--everyone have a wonderful day today... and, um, tomorrow AJ... :D

Steve Stubbs said...

If you like movies with a political theme, let me recommend BULWORTH. An old film but available on DVD. I borrowed it from Netflix. It is a superb movie even though it stars Warren Beatty.

Any movie that is so well done it can overcome a handicap like that is worth watching.

From a storytelling POV it is unique inasmuch as the MC's struggle is with himself, and yet the struggle is made creatively objective in several ways, including the shocking conclusion. The filmmakers had to do it that way in a show-don't-tell medium like film. The way they did it is well worth studying.

Have a happy 4th. And a happy 5th, 6th, 7th, and so forth.

Claire Bobrow said...

The holiday feels different this year. Here's to our Democracy, so precious and so fragile. May we strive to preserve it.

Happy 4th, Everyone!

Dena Pawling said...

WOW! My quote is at the top of the blog =)

Today we have a pool party and barbecue at my parents' house, then watch their city's fireworks show. We've been doing this since my #1 Navy son was an infant, and he's 23 now. In recent years we've invited families of my kids' friends to come, and this year three families are joining us. Always a fun day.

Happy Independence Day to all!

Terri Lynn Coop said...

Well, here on the prairie, all the water is falling out of the sky in great sheets. I have a half a dozen soaked cardinals and blue jays sheltering on my covered porch and I could make a metaphor about red and blue putting aside their differences in order to weather the storm . . . but instead, I'll wish everyone a happy holiday and a wonderful day.

Claire Bobrow said...

Dena: that is a great quote. I can relate!

Casey Karp said...

A happy Fourth to each and every one of you. And one free of firework-traumatized fuzzies.

Good to hear about all those family traditions. Those are what keep families together, even when family members depart. Today is the latest in a line of "First [x] without Dad" for us. And it helps a lot to know we're doing the Fourth the way we've done it for years. Small town fireworks tonight, dinner at one of his favorite restaurants tomorrow.

And keep on writing, y'all. Free speech would be pointless without anything to say.

Craig F said...

I've got a small gap in my day so I came to say Hi and wish you all the best for the Fourth. Please be careful.

The Gap. The true racers and almost racers are done and tabulated. The drone pilot says the adaptive and recreational paddlers are still twenty minutes away.

It has been a glorious day, the sun, like a blast furnace, rose into a cloudless sky accentuated by us being deep in the doldrums, not a single hint of a breeze to move that wet blanket of humidity permeating the state. With luck those things won't morph into seabreeze storms until after it is done and over and I am already home.

Ardenwolfe said...

Well said. Happy 4th.

Lennon Faris said...

Wishing everyone the best Fourth. This post and all these comments are very moving. We aren't planning any celebrations other than being thankful for this country and those who have truly made (and still make) it a place to be thankful for. Oh - and sedating the dog :)

Lisa Bodenheim said...

Like Casey, our family is going through the First [x] without Dad. Yesterday we worked at Mom's place in Dad's trees, pulling out the various vines that have grown unfettered for the past couple years, around the homemade bench he liked to sit on to observe in quiet and peace. All pines except for an apple tree, which he loved to eat the apples green (and yes get tummy aches!) Today my adult children work (one in retail, the other in shipping packages) so it's a quiet writing day for me.

Here's to democracy and freedom of speech. (Without endangering marginalized people's lives.)

Dena: I saw the new quote up top. What a great one to throw out for the Shark (and us Reiders) to savor!

John Davis Frain said...

Sometimes, Janet, you say it so well I hate to comment and muck things up.

Enjoy your independence, everyone, wherever you spend it.

Diana said...

I had no idea that flag was so huge!

It's proving to be a soggy day in Kansas, so I have time to be introspective. As I watch what is happening in our country and the world at large, I've never been more appreciative of my rights. And, to borrow from a comment I saw on Twitter, I'm glad I'm lucky enough to live somewhere where I don't generally have to worry about being blown up on my way to the grocery store.

Happy Fourth!

Gypmar said...

What a stunning photograph! Thanks for sharing, Janet.

Karen McCoy said...

Yay, Dena! Great quote. I feel the same about my TBR pile.

Will try to make it to San Francisco to see the fireworks, after I get some writing done...Happy 4th to all!

Robert Ceres said...

Another great flag that inspired me as a midshipman is Oliver Hazard Perry's "Don't give up the ship" flag that was on prominent display in memorial hall. http://www.phmc.state.pa.us/portal/communities/pa-heritage/flag-bears-witness-dont-give-up-the-ship.html
An inspirational message for us all as we face difficult times.
Happy fourth. Happy Birthday America. May your freedoms always live.

Jennifer R. Donohue said...

Happy 4th everybody!

We had a very small cookout, and my dog is very tired.

In addition to Jimi Hendrix playing the National Anthem at Woodstock, I have also listened to Bruce Springsteen's "Sandy (Fourth of July Asbury Park)" and am now sitting down to novel revision...unless I want an ice cream sandwich first?

Dani Nosek said...

I'm spending the day on Duty, keeping the ship safe and whatnot here in Spain. But the base did a big thing over the weekend and yesterday we had a bbq at my Chief's house which was a lot of fun.

Sorry to those who couldn't have their loved ones with them. I'm with my Navy family today, so I can't complain. Happy 4th!

kathy joyce said...

Hope everyone had a great day. We did our 4th over the weekend, as my 7 sibs and most of their families (30+ people) came for an extra long weekend. The traditional sparkler rocket competition was extra meaningful this year, as our main task was (finally) cleaning out our childhood home. Lots of emotion and a few tears, but no fighting, thank God.

Today, my immediate family is recovering from the reunion, and packing dad and son for a 2-week boy scout hike in the Rockies. Daughter and I are getting organized for the 4H county fair. (Career girl me never saw that coming!)

I've thought a lot about my immigrant grandparents today. They did make America great.

I have exciting news to share tomorrow!

Anonymous said...

Every few years, I celebrate this day by re-reading the entire Declaration. Not just the famous preamble everyone knows by heart -- "We hold these truths to be self-evident..." -- but the long middle part, which is pretty much a criminal indictment. Interesting, reflecting about which crimes they found intolerable and worth dying for.

This year, this part of the preamble resonated with me:

"Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed."

It's not necessarily how bad we want democracy, but how disposed we are to tolerate tyranny. Interesting times.

Hope you all are enjoying the 4th, however you celebrate. I'm hoping for minimal trauma to the dog and cat, and crossing my fingers this won't be the year the idiot neighbours set the place on fire with their commercial grade fireworks.


I'm such a curmudgeon.

Megan V said...

Happy Fourth to my fellow writers in the US and a wonderful day to all.

QOTKU is absolutely right when it comes to free speech.

A reminder to everyone shooting off fireworks to hopefully keep in mind those who are more sensitive to such displays. I'm looking forward to some fireworks myself—I'll be spending my night on a flight and I'm hoping that with any luck, I'll be able to see some fireworks from above.

Even if I don't, I was fortunate enough to be able to celebrate this afternoon with the family and the family recipe for brandy slush.

Craig F said...


Thank you for your service.

LynnRodz said...

Happy 4th of July to you Janet and to everyone celebrating in the US. Thanks for the history lesson, who knew snippets of the flag were taken deliberately. Btw, Sorkin's words are so apropos to 2017.

Susan, I Skype with my mum every day. Today for the 4th we sang I'm A Yankee Doodle Dandy. She knew the lyrics and sang right along. She couldn't tell you what she had for breakfast an hour earlier, but boy did she enjoy singing that song. I take every blessing (big.and small) I can.

CynthiaMc said...


Some of my favorite July 4ths were when we were overseas. One of those was in Spain. One was in Japan. Military families are family. It's been awhile but we still keep up with a lot of ours. Thanks for standing watch.

Claire Bobrow said...

The hamburgers and hot dogs, blueberry pie and brownies, have been enjoyed with dear friends. The dishes have been dried and the bunting put away until next year. With dogs curled in their baskets and the sound of fireworks echoing in the distance, I just read the link provided by Robert Ceres regarding Oliver Hazard Perry's "Don't Give Up the Ship" flag from the War of 1812. Thank you, Robert - what a wonderful article to finish out the day!