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July 4, 2012
July 4, 2012: What to Celebrate and Other Days to Remember
By Marta Steele
Ruminations on July 4 and what other days might become holidays, most of which reside in the category of trivia.
image courtesy of the Internet
On this day in 2012, members of the Occupy movement are meeting in Philadelphia, the Cradle of Liberty where the Declaration of Independence was signed, to carve out a follow-up strategy to continue their efforts to free the 99 percent from the clutches of the filthy-wealthy one percent. Note that the struggle has been reframed by some as an aspiration to free 100 percent of Americans and by extension the world, from the damages being accomplished by blind stupidity and greed. We are fighting to save the people and our habitat the earth.
It is no coincidence that Occupy is meeting in the same place where both the Declaration and the Constitution were signed, the latter also on September 17, in 1887. The Constitution, in its first sentence but second-to-last priority, states that one of its goals is to "provide for the general welfare."
But is it a coincidence that Occupy Wall Street began on the same day as the Constitution was signed--September 17, 2001 and September 17, 1787, respectively? I'd say that if calendar dates were a consideration, then Occupy would have begun on July 4.
I have assembled a list of dates to celebrate that mark epitomal points in American and world history, largely West-centered.
Thomas Jefferson was born on April 13, 1743, but held his birthday a secret so that July 4, celebrated heartily after we won the Revolution, would remain the focus of the people. He and John Adams died coincidentally on July 4, 1825, the only time two Presidents died on the same day; James Monroe died on July 4, 1831.
The victory at Yorktown, Virginia, was accomplished on October 19, 1791, the last battle of the Revolution. Virginia remains the "cradle of Presidents," where the most of our chief execs were born: Washington, Jefferson, Madison, Monroe, William H. Harrison, John Tyler, Zachary Taylor, and Woodrow Wilson--fully 18.6 percent of our chief execs.
Two important days marking the beginning of the Revolution are the famous ride of Paul Revere, immortalized by the poet Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, on April 18-19, 1775. The battle of Lexington/Concord was fought the next day, April 19.
Bastille Day was first celebrated by the French on July 14, 1790, a year after the Bastille was stormed.
The Bill of Rights was ratified on December 15, 1791.
To jump ahead a bit, the Proclamation of Emancipation, an executive order by President Lincoln, was issued on New Year's Day, 1863. The Civil War ended on April 9, 1865, when General Lee surrendered.
World War I ended on June 28, 1919; in World War II, the day that Japan surrendered was September 2, 1945.
The Vietnam War ended on April 30, 1975.
Backtracking a bit, Women's Suffrage became a right on June 5, 1915. The Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. was born on January 15, 1929, a holiday we do celebrate, to some extent. Brown v Board of Education was decided on May 17, 1954.
The Civil Rights Act became law on July 2, 1964, just two days before July 4, but fewer people celebrate it. July 4 brings together all stripes of the political rainbow. In the same category, the Voting Rights Act passed on May 26, 1965.
The ERA amendment has not yet passed. Much human rights legislation has either not made it to the "floor" or still resides in the realm of idealism or ideology.
The Affordable Care Act was upheld by the Supreme Court on June 28, 2012, after being signed into law on March 23, 2012.
I know that many other significant days in history have been overlooked in this brief survey. Every day of the year marks some anniversary. Above, the few coincidences, some more purposeful than others, have been noted.
On July 4, then, we celebrate the signing of the Declaration of Independence, itself contradictory and discriminatory, as I have noted before, where a few paragraphs down from the phrase that "all [property-holding white] men are created equal" comes a reference to Native Americans as "savages."
When will we get beyond the racism and sexism inherent in the Declaration?
Never mind for now; admire the peaceful application of lots of gunpowder this evening and celebrate the good. Some of us don't have that option but are instead dying from bad uses of gunpowder and other WMD all over the world--soldiers, rebels, and civilians.
Those of us who are blessed, celebrate this fact even as you realize we're celebrating the culmination of lots of hard work and bloodshed that led to more hard work and bloodshed. We've got to continue the hard work of democracy, reducing bloodshed by other means than drones.
I have no strong last line, because there is none. Keep on fighting nonviolently. Blessings to Occupy. The work is never done for us, by us. July 4 is no three-day weekend. It's back to work tomorrow for most of us.
America? As Gandhi might say, it's a nice idea.
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Submitters Website: www.wordsunltd.com; www.editingunltd.com
A jack of some trades, writing and editing among them, Marta Steele, an admitted and proud holdover from the late sixties, returned to activism ten years ago after first establishing her skills as a college [mostly adjunct] professor in three subjects, then writer ("born" in the South, of course), then mother, then highly successful publishing professional (editor). In the latter context, she began to write or, more accurately, couldn't stop herself from protesting when the entire country came down with media/ Monica obsession and, stripped of judgment, turned to impeach a capable president for doing, perhaps too openly, what few presidents haven't either done themselves or wanted to. Subsequently and probably as a result, Bush was elected and Steele's venom turned against the hideous corruption that had accomplished this. She became an election integrity activist and harsh media critic, incredulous about media indifference to issues of vital importance to democracy. She also became a peace activist, serving on the board of the Delaware Valley Coalition for Peace Action and writing droves of blog entries on this subject. Even as protest against the Iraq invasion burgeoned, the media had other, yellower, red herrings to throw at us. Concerned to inform the future if not the present about the protest movement and the amazing words and events that accompanied it, she attended as many protest events as she could, ink freezing in her pen under the worst weather conditions. These writings reside in hard-copy archives of Words, UnLtd., a paper journal born in 1999, as every blog entry since its cyberspace rebirth in 2005, just when the election integrity movement burgeoned, "fooled again" by Bush's reelection in 2004. She works as a freelance editor (mostly academic) and writer, the proud mom of an ABD. Liza Gwendolyn, working to gain her PhD in public sociology at Princeton University. She still blogs regularly, mainly at Wordsunltd.com and Opednews, but writings are picked up at other sites and sent out into the blogosphere and hard-copy publications as well. At work on an 8-year history of the election integrity movement, she was stricken with Bell's Palsy and had to divert her energies. Time willing, once this monster abates (well on its way, deo gratias), she hopes to resume work on it. She has a large opus she'd like to publish in hard copy as essay anthologies, but so far that hasn't worked--the advice is to make an attracting enough name to succeed in an effort that usually follows upon more single-themed hard-copy and public visibility. Wish me luck. All leads welcome. Stage two: single-themed hard copy accomplished--advance orders welcome for "Grassroots, Geeks, Pros, and Pols." Blurb follows below: "Grassroots, Geeks, Pros, and Pols: How the People Lost and Won, 2000-2008," by Election Integrity (EI) activist Marta Steele, is a history of the Election Integrity movement from 2000 to 2008, highlighting the corrupt practices of that decade, and how the people rallied to control and ultimately overcome them, at least in Election 2008. What happened thereafter will become another book. The culprits were highly corruptible and low-quality machines and the machinery that allowed them to proliferate, defying the will of the people in favor of conservative values unconcerned with the exigent issues that drew the people to the polls. Voters turned out in record numbers in 2008. Thirty percent of those who usually sit out elections (a total of about 100 million) showed up. For their will not to have prevailed would have represented the biggest travesty in our nation's history; and yet a week before Election Day both John McCain and Karl Rove were predicting a Republican victory. Then Rove changed his mind on the eve of Election Day, predicting that Obama would win. But this occurred after the huge battle, at so many levels, ultimately boiled down to a deposition in Columbus, Ohio, on November 3, 2008, of a Rove IT operative. Once Judge Solomon Oliver found holes in the deposition, the people's will exploded and the people's choice went to Washington. Perhaps the day before Election 2008 did not become the major holiday it should have because the machinery of election corruption is up and running again and the people are still fighting. But in Grassroots, Geeks, Pros, and Pols the dramatic victory achieved was a successful revolution and in the long run may be remembered for that. The ultimate success will not be a sigh of relief and a cheer for a brief period of time, but the permanent death of anti-American activities. Our vote is our sacred right, nothing we need to acquire with a government-issued photo i.d. It is the bottom line of democracy. Without it, there is no democracy, which is not an abstract noun but continuous work. All this our founding fathers knew and passed down to us, a tough legacy and challenge but well worth our necessary efforts.