Monday, July 04, 2005

Happy 4th of July!

John Trumbull's "Declaration of Independence"

I had a sleepless night (at least from midnight-3 a.m.), due to my north and south neighbor's drunken love affair with very loud, illegal incendiary devices (fireworks). These idiots were actually in possession of the cannon launched type of fireworks that our local fire dept. shoots off tonight. They were shooting them at each other over a state highway. Unfortunately, they were doing this in short bursts, so the sheriff's dept. couldn't catch them at it.

This experience got me to thinking about the TRUE meaning of this holiday. A lot of people see July 4th as an excuse to party. Others gather at parades, BBQs, and fireworks displays (the licensed, supervised kind). I choose this day to reflect on the events that led up to a handful of our "founding fathers" deciding to sever ties with England through the publication of The Declaration of Independence.

My favorite "signer" is Ben Franklin. I have always appreciated Ben's sense of humor. Reading his comments on society, I come away with the feeling that human nature hasn't changed in the last 229 years.

This morning I learned that Ben's formal education only occurred between the ages of 8-10. ALL his other knowledge was self-taught. Talk about a successful homeschooler!

According to Thomas Kindig:"Benjamin Franklin may by his life alone be the most profound statement of what an American strives to be." Kindig goes on to say:"Benjamin Franklin: Businessman, Writer, Publisher, Scientist, Diplomat, Legislator, and Social activist, was one of the earliest and strongest advocates for the abolition of Slavery, and for the protection of the rights of American aboriginal peoples."

Today, I ask my readers to take a few minutes to study this document and the brave men who signed it. Look up background information on the signers and tell me who your favorite "patriot" is.


At 7/04/2005 12:25 PM, Blogger Squirl said...

Benjamin Franklin has been my favorite for many, many years. He just always seemed so smart and witty. Quite the ladies man too, I hear. I thought I had done quite a bit of reading on him but never realized that his only formal training was that short. I wish we had more people like that around right now.

And about your neighbors, I had we had it bad yesterday when people were setting off things that sounded like m80s. I dislike loud neighbors. Ones that do dangerous, illegal fireworks are worse. Here's hoping they used them all up!

At 7/04/2005 1:05 PM, Blogger Jason said...

I'm a Ben fan as well, and I'm also partial to John Adams. Or maybe that's because I saw "1776" at a young age. Great sacrifices and achievements through effort that are all too often forgotten today amidst the barbeques and gunpowder.

At 7/04/2005 1:06 PM, Blogger .: raven :. said...

thanks for this poignant reminder of what this holiday is really about.

i also cannot stand the neighbors who think that the laws don't apply to them. it infuriates me. but it seems there are people like this in every neighborhood across America. ugh.

i hope you have a great day ..

At 7/04/2005 2:35 PM, Blogger Laura said...

I'm really a Jefferson fan. I wish he hadn't been a slaveowner because that does put one hell of a dent in his quest for "freedom". However, he was one of the first to propose the separation of church and state and stick behind that principle even in the face of strong adversity. Being from a "deviant" religious path, I cherish that he had the forethought and courage to see the difference between the sacred and secular worlds.

As for fireworks, I've been known to blow off a few illegally. Nothing that big though. A few firecrackers and bottle rockets is one thing. But they could have hurt someone with those cannons.

At 7/04/2005 6:13 PM, Blogger Bridget Jones said...

Hey tshsmom! Ben Franklin is my fave too. He wrote this poem that still sticks in my mind about a teacher that he didn't like:

I do not like thee, Dr. Fell.
Why it is I cannot tell
but this I know
and know full well
I do not like thee, Dr. Fell.

Great for you reminding us of our history.

And those they have a hot tub? If yes, do you have rice? Hmmmmmmm

Bridg the naughty

At 7/04/2005 9:12 PM, Anonymous ann said...

we just got back to new york city from vermont, where it was very quiet (despite some local firework activity). between the macy's fireworks in the east river and the statue of libery and every other tom, dick, and harry setting off their own personal stash, my poor dog ruby is under the bed shaking.

believe it or not, i'm working on a benjamin franklin project for a small museum (an exhibition that opens in feb. 2006), and i'm not sure how he would have felt about all of this firework activity!

At 7/04/2005 11:15 PM, Blogger Ben said...

I like Thomas Jefferson the most. Cool guy, wrote 16,000 letters and was elected president. All around great guy.

At 7/05/2005 12:51 AM, Anonymous Sagepaper said...

My favorite is Ben Franklin. His autobiography is wonderful! I have a collection of other writings of his that I bought in Philadelphia. I found there are limits to my fanhood, however. I cannot brig myself to read his Art of Eating. My husband recommends it. I'm just not as passionate about food. He has some recipes that I would have a hard time using -- they include measures of which I have never heard. I was very proud of my work in print shops, though I was only a bindery worker.

As far as the fireworks go, I don't think of the Declaration of Independence that is being celebrated. I think of Fort McHenry, where the Star Spangled Banner was written. The fireworks are a tame reminder of the deadly ordinance raining down on the servicemen holding that fort against a full-scale British Naval Bombardment. The bombs bursting in air were more deadly than bombs bursting on the ground. Shrapnel was propelled in all directions, killing and wounding those behind the ramparts. To see hope, the fact that the battle's continuation meant the Fort had not surrendered, in a hell of gunsmoke and fire so furious the garrison flag could not be seen, is a beautiful bit of soul on the poet's part.

The outcome of that battle was highly uncertain, but it was absolutely critical that the British Fleet be stopped at the bottleneck by Fort McHenry, and not allowed to pass to Baltimore Harbor. The rockets red glare, I assume, were flares for targeting. I don't know that, though.

It's a bit off the beaten path, but I highly recommend a tour of Fort McHenry. It is not just the museum inside, and the displays of period cannon that are satisfying. Looking out over the water, you can almost see the dense formation of the British Navy. Looking at the actual fortifications, it appears to be nothing short of a miracle that the fort was held.

At 7/05/2005 3:07 AM, Blogger SME said...

"Fart proudly." - Benjamin Franklin
Happy 4th of July! (belatedly, but at least the fireworks are over now)

At 7/05/2005 12:47 PM, Blogger Jason said...

I loved fireworks when I was a kid, but now I see them as setting money on fire. And they're noisy. And terrify the dogs. And our neighborhood is especially in love with them, which means stepping outside is like being in a war zone. The sulphur and smoke fumes give me a nice little asthma attack everytime. Oh, and the bottle rockets that land on the car roof are nice, too, especially since I have a convertible.

At 7/05/2005 2:49 PM, Blogger Laura said...

It scares the crap out of our dog too. She found out the hard way that she's too big to fit under the bed.

As for the sulfur smell, I guess I'm weird. I find that oddly pleasing...

At 7/05/2005 6:00 PM, Blogger The Zombieslayer said...

How can anyone not love Ben? His writings are awesome and he enjoyed life, even when he was in intense physical pain (kidney stones). I love Jefferson too. Love his writings as well.

At 7/05/2005 6:25 PM, Blogger tshsmom said...

Happy to say that last night was quiet in the 'hood. Thank God, because I have to be to work at 6 a.m.! What I can't understand is where my neighbors get the money for this? This was one weekend that I was grateful for all the rain we've had. Sparks from their "display" were raining down on my shed and yard.
I'm glad to see that I'm in good company as a Ben Lover. Even my smarta** daughter with her un PC quote. Jefferson is my 2nd favorite. He had such an inquiring mind and having Lewis and Clark explore the west was brilliant!

At 7/06/2005 10:44 AM, Blogger Notta Wallflower said...

When I was younger, I was more excited by Fourth of July events. I really am not anymore - I love to see the fireworks, but I get cranky when I'm in a crowd and I just think about getting home and having some space.

I was doing a little reading on and I was reading about Benjamin Rush. I like the fact that, not only was he against slavery, but he actually did something about it (helped form first anti-slavery society in US). Also, he was for social reform such as an end to capital punishment and education reforms. He was a physician by trade and helped to change things (in the future) in the area of treating mental illnesses with his book "Diseases of the Mind". While I don't agree with his "out there" theories on the causes of mental illness and the proper treatments (like bloodletting), he still seemed to be quite the medical pioneer of his time.

What sets Benjamin Rush apart from the obvious favorites is that, unlike Thomas Jefferson, his actions seemed to match his words. I don't know enough about Ben Franklin to make a fair comparison between the two men. Suffice it to say that a man who is a scholar and who works for the good of mankind, while taking an interest in social issues is someone I can respect.

At 7/06/2005 1:50 PM, Blogger tshsmom said...

That's fascinating Jen! I've kinda made this my next summer project; to get some background on all the signers. It'll take awhile, but well worth it.

At 7/06/2005 4:47 PM, Blogger Notta Wallflower said...

TS - I'm ashamed to say that I did not research all of the signers because I'm on summer break and I'm in "lazy mode", but I just remember his name a bit from 9th grade history and I just read up on a few people randomly on that biography website. I forgot to mention that, as I read the Declaration of Independence, I mentally thought to myself how alike (in my mind) the British parliament was in comparison to our current government. I could be wrong, though (it's happened a few times before). :-P

At 7/06/2005 9:42 PM, Blogger greatwhitebear said...

My favorite is Washington. he built a nation largly on the strength of his character. Strangely, today he is likely the least appreciated of the founders, although most of his peers were in awe of him.

He was much more intellectually deep than given credit for. Like Jefferson, he was an agronomist, an inventor (he invented the barrel drill for planting indigo), and he was the best mule breeder in North America. Like Franklin, he was largely self educated, yet was one of the most well read men in the world. It was Washington, more than any of the founders, who recognized the dangers of mixing religion and politics.

But what I admire most is the fact that he had absolute power, could have been king, and gave that power back to the people. VERY few men in history have had the strength of character to give up power willingly for the good of their nation.

At 7/06/2005 9:54 PM, Blogger tshsmom said...

GWB-Turning down kingship is what I've always admired about Washington. The fact that he was a leader that actually fought in the war and suffered with his troops impressed me too.

At 7/06/2005 10:04 PM, Blogger greatwhitebear said...

I should also mention that unlike Jefferson, Washingtn actually freed his slaves (much to the dismay of Martha, who was adamantly pro slavery). I would love to have seen the look on her face when his will was read!

At 7/07/2005 5:27 PM, Blogger Vest said...

Ben Franklin and the like all had nice legs. The Shape and size of womans legs in the 1700s was a bit of a lottery, they were only revealed to the husband in the bridal chamber, usually.

At 8/27/2008 3:38 PM, Blogger Suldog said...

Thanks for the kind comments on my political rant.

My favorite of the fathers is Thomas Jefferson. Brilliant man, inventor of interesting things (folding chairs, for instance), and great writer.

I have great respect and admiration for all of them, though.


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