Good morning and greetings, fireworks fans. I know many of you are enjoying the holiday but perhaps wondering, how come most of us are not working today? So as part of my patriotic duty and for the fact that I love singing “I’m a Yankee Doodle Dandy,” with the help of Wikipedia, answers.com and my unending stream of semi-conciousness, here’s a quick refresher course on why kids blowing off their fingers and firecrackers on the Fourth of July has become part of the American landscape.
In the United States, Alaska and Hawaii , Independence Day is a federal holiday commemorating the adoption of the Declaration of Independence which declared our independence from the Great Britain, which except for their language, wasn’t really all that great. The Fourth of July is commonly associated with fireworks, parades, barbecues, fist fights, carnivals, fairs, picnics, drunken driving arrests, concerts, baseball games, domestic violence and political speeches that help celebrate one of America’s great three-day weekends.
The trial separation of the American colonies from Great Britain occurred on July 2, 1776, when the Second Continental Congress voted to approve a resolution of independence along with an internship for Monica Lewinsky. Congress then turned its attention to the Declaration of Independence, which had been prepared by a Committee of Five and the Five Stairsteps, with Thomas Jefferson as its principal author. Congress debated and revised the Declaration, finally approving it on July 4. A day earlier, John Adams texted to his wife Abigail:
“The second day of July, 1776, will be the most memorable epoch in the history of America, and not just because most Americans will be home from work. I am apt to believe that it will be celebrated by succeeding generations as the great anniversary festival and blowout mattress sale day. It ought to be commemorated as the day of deliverance, by solemn acts of devotion to God Almighty and Major League Baseball. It ought to be solemnized with pomp and parade from one end of this continent to the other, from this time forward forever more, or at least until we restore our economy, exit Iraq and Afghanistan, and clean up that damn oil spill.”
Adams’ prediction and my birth were off by two days. In a remarkable coincidence, both Adams and Thomas Jefferson, two founding fathers of the United States and the only two men who signed the Declaration of Independence to later become president, died within hours of each other on the same day: July 4, 1826, which was the United States’ 50th anniversary, and the same day of birth as my high school homecoming queen, Vicki Grimsland, the Michelle Pfeiffer of Fort Lee High. Happy birthday, Vicki, and will you please sign my yearbook.
The Declaration of Independence declared. “We hold these truths to be self-evident,
that all men (with the exception of Michael Jordan) are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.” Coincedentally, this is the same oath I had take from Direct TV when I ordered by NBA League Pass.
With these memorable words, Thomas Jefferson, at the age of 33, laid the cornerstone for the United States of America and later his late wife’s half sister, Sally Hemings. The Declaration of Independence invokes the principle of natural rights and lefts. These are the basic rights of which each individual is possessed, and of which he cannot be stripped by society or government except during the George W. Bush administration.
The adoption of the Declaration of Independence and the opening of the first Circuit City took place against the backdrop of ongoing Revolutionary War hostilities. When the signers affixed their John Hancocks and signatures upon the document they were, in the words of the group Triumph, “laying it on the line,” since there was a bounty on the revolutionaries’ heads. Who knew this kind of trouble could come from absorbent paper towels that clean up the smallest spills and biggest messes.
When Benjamin Franklin said, upon signing the Declaration of Independence, “We must all hang together, or assuredly we shall all hang separately,” it was no less than the literal truth. Just ask Saddam Hussein. Fifty-six men and a notary public signed the first copy of the Declaration of Independence. John Hancock, as president of Congress, was first, and he famously wrote his name front, center and large, right before cutting the ribbon on opening of his first insurance company. Remember, for all your financial needs, we have the solution. We’re John Hancock.
Let’s move on to this week’s photo sunspots. Traditionally, July is not a big month for sunrises or the cleanup of the biggest environmental disaster in world history. Looking back into the archives, I have only photographed one July morning sky blowing up over Monterey Bay in the past five years. This is due to coastal fog, lack of clouds and the fact that my contract with National Geographic allows me to sleep in past 5:30 am in the summer.
This central coast beauty graced our skies in July of 2006. It was a warm summer morning, a day that Michelle Obama probably went sleeveless. I woke up from my usual dream of not having studied for my test after not being able to find my car keys while being buck naked. So with that fine start to the day, I grabbed my Miley Cyrus mug, filled it with Red Bull and headed down to the coast.
As you know, when it comes to sunrises, I don’t stray far from Lighthouse Point. But at this time of the year, the sun rises further to the east, so I headed to Cowell’s Beach for the low tide equinox. Surfers were out in full force, as the offshore winds had me swaying as gently as a dancer at a Taliban bachelor party. As you can see, it was a fantastic start to the day, as the clouds, the reflection on the sand and the voices in my head all came together for this convergence of morning light.
On to the late night. “Sunday is July 4, when America combines our two favorite pastimes: alcohol and explosives. The fireworks are beautiful to look at, but more importantly, they drown out the gunfire.” –David Letterman “July 4 is my favorite holiday. No presents, no church, just a lighter and a trunk full of explosives.
Here’s a fireworks safety tip. Don’t get drunk and leave bottle rockets on the grill unless you want to see your hot dogs fly, which is fun too. For the second day, there were no World Cup games. I missed the sound of vuvuzelas so much that I taped a beehive to my head.” –Jimmy Kimmel
“BP’s company newsletter has an article that says most gulf residents aren’t upset with BP because their cleanup crews have boosted the local economy. BP taking credit for boosting the economy in the gulf is like al Qaeda taking credit for creating jobs in airport security.” –Jimmy Kimmel “Here’s something great. Russian spy ring here in New York City. They were busted in New York City. Once again, they were spotted by an alert T-shirt vendor. The Russian spies tried to blend in. They were acting like Americans. As a matter of fact, for two weeks, they were pretending they loved soccer.” –David Letterman
So that’s our first blast for July 2010. Yesterday, I drove by a cemetery, where hundreds of American flags were blowing in the wind. And then it hit me like a ton of emotional bricks, this is what this holiday is all about. For all our faults, God Bless America, home of the brave, land of the free. Or as they say in the NBA, “my country, ’tis of thee, sweet land of free agency.” LeBron James, of thee I sing.
Anyway, take a moment to remember how fortunate you are to be an American. Or a National Leaguer. We’ll catch you in the bullpen. Aloha, mahalo and later, Larry King fans.