This is the day, two days after Independence was declared, that the Declaration of Independence was finally decided upon, and a month and four days before it was first signed by John Hancock and the others.
Yes, it's good to remember every 4th of July (and daily in-between I might add) exactly what we are celebrating. One might think we are celebrating fireworks, over eating and drinking.
And actually, I think we are. We are celebrating a reason to celebrate. That's fine, as long as we don't lose sight of what exactly the celebrations were originally all about.
But what does that mean? Well, if you don't know yet, go read a book. Or, if you can't handle that, watch a good movie. I have a really good suggestion for a good movie on that topic, but I can't make it yet, as I'm currently writing it. But when it comes out, go see it. It's going to be really fun.
To really understand what the celebration is about, you cannot just hear what it is about, you have to know what it was like to live back then. I don't think we can even imagine now what it was like. No technologies like we have now, much fewer people, only 13 states, most of the US under other's control or a vast possibility beyond the Mississippi.
But it meant no more control by England. Free to pursue our own devices. Taxation with Representation. Immigrants were welcomed. Years later for America, commerce was King, not the King of England.
First and foremost, American Independence meant spilled blood. That of our ancestors, or the founders of this country, not just the Founding Fathers, considering, they lived through the war.
On a more positive side, France gave us a great symbol that has turned into the symbol for America, the Statue of Liberty, "Lady Liberty" herself.
Frédéric-Auguste BartholdiLady Liberty Banquet
Re-created by Chef David Féau
“In 1871, Frédéric-Auguste Bartholdi, who had already won a measure of success with patriotic sculptural works, was commissioned by Edouard de Laboulaye, a prominent scholar and politician, to sculpt the goddess Liberty; Laboulaye planned to give it to the United States to commemorate the historic relations between the two nations at the time of America’s centennial anniversary of independence. The iconography of the monument was based upon French and Roman models. It was to take the form of the Roman goddess Libertas, which had long been a symbol of freedom in Europe. . . . Laboulaye approved Bartholdi’s clay study model for the statue in 1875, and then he inaugurated the Franco-American Union, which was to have full responsibility for the monument and the raising of money to pay for its construction.
"One of the great fund-raising events in the pains to build the Statue of Liberty was its kick-off banquet given at the Hotel du Louvre on Saturday, November 6, 1875, by the Franco-American Union. . . . The event was a glittering affair of some 200 guests, which included such distinguished names as French president Patrice de MacMahon, U.S. ambassador Elihu Washburne, descendents of Marquis de Lafayette . . . also present were prominent liberals Victor Borie, Louis Wolowski, and Henri Martin. The event, which raised 40,000 francs, was thus enormously successful both financially and socially.
"Based on newspaper reports, the banquet was described in Hertha Pauli’s 1948 classic volume, I Lift My Lamp: The Way of a Symbol: ‘The splendid dining room of the Hotel du Louvre was decked out in the red, white, and blue colors of the American and French republics. Two hundred guests, French and American (all male; the affair was strictly stag) sat at three tables forming a large U. At the end a gorgeously colored transparency depicted the proposed work. Its arms seemed to rise from the sea.’ The dinner was at once scrumptious and symbolic. Its leading dishes were specially named for the occasion.”
Lady Liberty Banquet
- Potage Pritanier—Mock Turtle à l’Américaine
- Hors d’Oeuvres variés
- Turbot à la Hollandaise—Croustades à la Washington
- Buissons d’Écrevisses de la Meuse (Sauce à la truffle noire)
- Filet de Boeuf Lafayette
- Cotelettes d’Agneau aux petit-pois
- Poularde Caroline
- Faisan et Perdeaux Bardés
- Salade de chicorée
- Haricots verts à la Mâitre d’hotel
- Turbans d’Ananas au Kirsch
- Parfait glace au café
- Dessert assorti
When Lady Liberty was commemorated, a poem was read, written by. Emma Lazarus and is now permanently engraved on a tablet within the pedestal on which the statue stands. Most people only know of it, a part:
"Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses...."
But there is more. Years later, one man made it his goal to see that poem on a plague on her base. It spoke to the world and welcomed those who needed protection. We forget sometimes, that we have traditionally been that big brother, or big sister to the world. It's a heady and heavy responsibility we have sometimes not wanted. We have wanted to hole up in a cave, to be isolationist.
The New Colossus
by Emma Lazarus
Not like the brazen giant of Greek fame,
With conquering limbs astride from land to land;
Here at our sea-washed, sunset gates shall stand
A mighty woman with a torch, whose flame
Is the imprisoned lightning, and her name
Mother of Exiles. From her beacon-hand
Glows world-wide welcome; her mild eyes command
The air-bridged harbor that twin cities frame.
"Keep ancient lands, your storied pomp!" cries she
With silent lips. "Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!"
Here in Seattle, we will celebrate with fireworks around our own statue of sorts, The 1964 World's Fair Space Needle. They have taken to making it quite a spectacle and something to be seen in person.
Have a happy, healthy and pleasant 4th of July, 2011!
Happy Birthday America!