It’s a day of tradition — oddly enough, since we are in reality a very new nation, and Lee’s resolution to declare independence from Britain came on July 2.
A soak in Millard Fillmore’s Bathtub is nothing if not a steeping in tradition. Fly your flag today, to celebrate the independence of the American colonies of Britain.
Fourth of July: NPR has already read the Declaration of Independence (or will soon, if you’re up early), PBS is ready to broadcast the Capitol Fourth concert (maybe a rebroadcast is available, if you’re off at your own town’s fireworks — check your local listings), your town has a parade somewhere this weekend, or a neighboring community does, and fireworks are everywhere.
At the White House, traditionally, new citizens are sworn in — often people who joined our armed forces and fought for our nation, before even getting the privileges of citizenship. Fireworks on the Capital Mall will be grand, with the White House hosting a few thousand military people and their families from some of the best views. Traditionally, five photographers, chosen by lottery, get to shoot photos of the fireworks from the windows of the Washington Monument; will that occur, with the Monument shut down from public view for repair from the earthquake?
There will be great fireworks also in Baltimore Harbor over Fort McHenry, the fort whose siege inspired Francis Scott Key to write the “Star-spangled Banner” from his boat in the harbor, in 1814. Firworks will frighten the bluebirds nesting at Yorktown National Battlefield. I suspect there will be a grand display at Gettysburg, on the 150th anniversary of the end of that battle. July 4, 1863, also marked the end of the Siege of Vicksburg; tradition holds that Vicksburg did not celebrate the 4th of July for 83 years after that. I’ll wager there will be fireworks there tonight. In Provo, Utah, the city poobahs will have done all they can to try to live up to their self-proclaimed reputation as having the biggest Independence Day celebration in the nation. The celebration in Prescott, Arizona, is muted by the tragic deaths of 19 Hot Shot firefighters last week; will drought halt the fireworks, too? There will be fireworks around the Golden Gate Bridge, in Anchorage, Alaska, reflecting on the waters of Pearl Harbor, and probably in Guam, American Samoa, and the Northern Marianas Islands.
Fireworks on the Fourth is a long tradition — a tradition that kept John Adams and Thomas Jefferson alive, until they both died on the 50th anniversary of the Declaration of Independence, in 1826, the sounds of the fireworks letting Adams know the celebration had begun (Adams erroneously celebrated that Jefferson, the Declaration’s author, still lived, unable to know Jefferson had passed just hours earlier).
Remember to put your flag up today.
If you’re not on the Moon, here are some tips on flag etiquette, how to appropriately fly our national standard.
- “Fireworks in Washington, D.C.” (from 2009)
- Another post from 2009 – linked for the photo
- Our current 50-star flag is the longest-flying flag since 1789; since Hawaii’s entry into the Union, the U.S. has gone the longest stretch without adding a state (is it time to add one?)
- Fun quizzes on the Fourth of July, from PBS’s “Capitol Fourth.”
- Advice on photographing fireworks, from PBS (with experience on the Mall in Washington, D.C.), and from Ritz Camera and the New York Institute of Photography
- One more way we know the Moon landings were real — the photo below shows the flag from the photo above, still on the Moon.
- Fourth of July trivia: Fun facts about flags, food and fireworks (mercurynews.com)
- Happy Fourth Of July! Celebrate With 75 ‘Firework’ Songs (huffingtonpost.com)
- Y! Big Story: Lesser known truths about Fourth of July (givemeliberty01.wordpress.com)
- Fireworks TV schedule: July 4, 2012 — when, where to watch (examiner.com)
- AP PHOTOS: Americans celebrate the Fourth of July (sfgate.com)
- Josh Turner plays PBS’s ‘A Capitol Fourth’ special (blogs.tennessean.com)
- Why We Watch Fireworks on the Fourth of July (usnews.com)
- Assemblyman Eric Linder presents Fourth of July Resolution (ocpolitical.com)
- Fourth Of July By The Numbers: Stats On Food, Fireworks, Flags & More (947thewave.cbslocal.com)
- This Fourth of July, Celebrate Safely (cmichaels225.wordpress.com)
- Our View: Tonight, we can all look up together (appeal-democrat.com)
- D.C. Prepares for Annual ‘A Capitol Fourth’ Concert (washington.cbslocal.com)
- Fourth of July Eve (ktindc.wordpress.com)
- No, the press conference on the discovery of the Higgs Boson was not intended to celebrate America’s Independence Day; still . . .
- Quote of the moment: Thomas Jefferson, on the 4th of July and its meaning
- Be sure to read Carl Anthony’s great story about the origins of Uncle Sam — is he the man they say he was? — his split personality, and how it was resolved
This is mostly an encore post, but I so love that photo of the flag with the Earth in the distance.
Happy birthday, Kathryn!
Tip of the old scrub brush to Thomas Jefferson, Richard Henry Lee, John Adams, Benjamin Franklin, Roger Sherman, Robert Livingston, and the cast of thousands of patriots including George Washington.