Monday, July 4, 2011

#285. Xavy in a patriotic but relaxed mood for his first Independence Day holiday

Don't think he'll be staying up for the fireworks this year

For blog-followers who liked "Drinking in the draught of June", here is more prosaic Editorial content from the NY Times, entitled "Fourth of July, High Noon of the Year"...

Here we are, high noon in the year 2011 — a little past it, actually. July 2 is the middle day of an ordinary year, but the Fourth will do. How the Fourth feels, time-wise, is a matter of temperament. Does it seem like the last outpost of the first part of the year? Or is it the border crossing into the next province of the calendar? Perhaps we can think of all those fireworks bursting overhead as a way of celebrating the new half-year.

The Fourth-ness of the Fourth feels inevitable now. But the resolution that declared the colonies “free and independent states” was passed by the Second Continental Congress on July 2. That might well have been the Independence Day we ended up celebrating. But on the Fourth, we do not celebrate the resolution of freedom. We celebrate the articulation of freedom, the newborn nation’s ability to explain its reasoning and its purposes to itself, to Britain and to the world. The vote made independence fact, but the Declaration made it principle.

What is hard now, as a nation that grew up on its language, is to feel how radical a document the Declaration of Independence really is. In one sense, it was merely the next step in a long series of events that prepared the colonies for their breach with Britain. But it was the step that made the breach irrevocable. It helps to think back to the first English settlers landing here in the 17th century, having set sail — so improbably — for a new land. On July 4, 1776, the American colonies set sail as well, the fate of their experiment as uncertain as the fate of those first settlers embarking across the Atlantic.

They were at the beginning, the men and women who first heard the news of independence. We have no idea where we are now — at high noon or somewhere else in this nation’s history.

The real point of those fireworks overhead is to let us hear the news again, to remind us that a fresh and unheard-of beginning is at the heart of our very nature.

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