Happy Birthday America! It is July 4th here, and other than some decorations and a fancy cake in the chow hall, it is just another day in the sandbox. I plowed through piles of intelligence reports, drove around Baghdad with my security team, met with a new informant, and inspected the security layout for a major infrastructure facility. This is one of my favorite holidays. It is right up there with Thanksgiving, but not quite as important as Memorial Day. I look forward to spending the next one at home. Independence Day, Thanksgiving, Memorial Day are my favorites among the national holidays because they are so deeply meaningful. I still dig the too-much-food-and-drink combined with a long weekend aspect, but always remember the importance of the day. We were hoping that today, as a special celebration, that we could actually fly the colors outdoors. (Yes, that's right, We can't fly Old Glory on our flagpoles here, but it is tacked up to the wall of about every room on the FOB. The concern is apparently that flying our nation's flag here makes us look too much like a conquering occupier.) I suppose the request was denied, because I have not seen it flying anywhere. Anyway, LFB has what I think is a great tradition to add at gatherings on the 4th of July. He suggests reading aloud from this wonderful document known as the Declaration of Independence. I think it's a great idea:
Or...perhaps friends of the spirit of independence who attend Fourth of July get-togethers could establish an annual tradition of reading aloud from the Declaration of Independence? (The cousin with the best speaking voice could be roped into doing it.) It's a reasonable suggestion given the ostensible purpose of the occasion; people will go along with it; and they'll do an inspiring double-take when they hear about all the "life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness" stuff. "So that's what all this hoopla is all about? Hmm...maybe I should be a little less rabid about getting handouts from the government and a little more concerned to protect the rights on behalf of which those guys pledged their lives, sacred honor and whatnot!"
July 2, 1776 is the day Congress resolved to separate from Great Britain. John Adams thought that this was the day that Americans would celebrate. As he wrote in a letter to his wife Abigail Adams on July 3, 1776:
The second day of July, 1776, will be the most memorable epoch in the history of America. I am apt to believe that it will be celebrated by succeeding generations as the great anniversary festival. It ought to be commemorated, as the day of deliverance, by solemn acts of devotion to God Almighty. It ought to be solemnized with pomp and parade, with shows, games, sports, guns, bells, bonfires, and illuminations, from one end of this continent to the other, from this time forward, forevermore.
Instead we celebrate July 4, the day the final version of the Declaration of Independence was formally adopted.
I plan on adopting this custom in my family. Have a great holiday. May all of your fireworks be safe.