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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.

( c )

Submitters Website: http://www.wordsunltd.com

Submitters Bio:

Marta Steele is an author/editor/blogger who has been writing for Opednews.com since 2006. She is also author of the 2012 book "Grassroots, Geeks, Pros, and Pols: The Election Integrity Movement's Nonstop Battle to Win Back the People's Vote, 2000-2008" (Columbus, Free Press) and a member of the Election Integrity movement since 2001. Her original website, WordsUnLtd.com, first entered the blogosphere in 2003. She recently became a senior editor for Opednews.com. She has in the past taught college and worked as a full-time as well as freelance reporter. She has been a peace and election integrity activist since 1999. Her undergraduate and graduate educational background are in Spanish, classical philology, and historical and comparative linguistics. Her biography was listed in "Who's Who in the East" in 2000.