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O’er the Ramparts We Watched

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Each year on this date I try to find and present a photo or illustration that captures America in a nutshell (here are the ones from 2014, 2013, 2012, 2011, 2010, 2009, and 2008). This year’s entry is a worthy addition to that collection.

If you’re playing with pyrotechnics today, try not to blow off more than one or two body parts (save the rest for next year). Ah, but that leads to a vexing question: Which part should you blow off? Our friends at the Consumer Product Safety Commission have put together this helpful graphic to assist in your amputation planning:

Another question that might be on your mind: Will it hurt? Happily, the answer is “Not one little bit!” As you can see for yourself in this fireworks-safety video (also from the CPSC), losing an extremity can be quick and painless, especially if you happen to be a mannequin:


Anyway: Everyone have a great holiday. I’ll be off at a friend’s party in Rockaway, but the comments are open, so feel free to chat amongst yourselves. If you have a few minutes, read the Declaration of Independence (if you can’t decipher Jefferson’s handwriting, here’s a typeset version), whose ratification is what we’re celebrating today. And if you happen to be in the company of a Britisher today, kindly pass along my annual Independence Day rallying cry: In your face, Redcoats!

Comments (21)

    Is this a mere tradition, or are these downright rituals? Either way, I dig it/them.

    So if today is only about the ratification of the Declaration of Independence, why is the photo “a photo or illustration that captures America in a nutshell”? I think the obvious answer is that we all know Independence Day is the United States of America’s birthday and the day we celebrate the US as a whole. We place it on the (disputed) date of ratification because that was the date the nation separated from the mother country, just like an infant separates from its mother’s womb. But we don’t limit birthday celebrations to celebrating the child exiting it’s mother’s body. No one would be upset by celebrating Washington’s military or political career on the celebration of his birthday. The Fourth is a time to celebrate all that America is and all that America stands for, which Paul clearly knows since again, he tries to pick “a photo or illustration that captures America in a nutshell.”

    So if today is only about the ratification of the Declaration of Independence, why is the photo “a photo or illustration that captures America in a nutshell”?

    Instead of putting a bunch of words in my mouth (which is really just an excuse for you to present a bunch of words from *your* mouth), why not let me answer the question?

    And the answer is this: I present such an image on July 4th for the same reason I present images like link, link, link, and link on Dec. 25th — because it’s fun to fuck around with highfalutin iconography, and because said fucking around becomes a form of commentary.

    Comment all you like; I have no problem with it. The point I’m making is that you have recently talked a lot of shit about some minor league baseball teams for, in your opinion, doing Independence Day wrong. You keep saying we’re celebrating the ratification of the DoI, but we’re really celebrating the United States as a whole. If you want to celebrate with satire, more power to you, but that doesn’t change the fact that the 4th is a celebration of the nation and it’s culture, which includes the Constitution and the military.

    But context matters. In this case, one piece of context is that I’m a cultural commentator, and commenting is what I do. So that’s what I’m doing today. And hey, I mentioned and linked to the Declaration of Independence!

    Another piece of context is that the sports world keeps glorifying the military over and over and over again to the near-exclusion of all other sectors of society. So when a team chooses a holiday that has nothing to do with the military and uses that holiday to once again glorify the military, yeah, that’s bad civics, and part of an unhealthy pattern.

    I don’t want to get bogged down in this today. Let’s all move on. Thanks.

    To interject, the nation wasn’t born on July 4th. It was born on September 17, 1787, when the constitutional convention adopted the Supreme Law of the Land and set out to bring the people of the United States into a more perfect union.

    The 4th, if you will, was the day America was inseminated.

    No, September 17 was when the state was born. The nation (society) is not equal to the state.

    States make up the nation. How can we be a nation, without the states? They’re separate in law.

    It is debatable, I’ll admit that. Some say June 21, 1788 (my birthday too) when New Hampshire became the ninth state to ratify the Constitution–the number specified in order for the Constitution to be in full and binding effect for all 13 former colonies. Others say Dec 15, 1791.

    As is just about any date before the modern era and record keeping. But the US was certainly not born on July 4th. It’s the day we decided to become Independent, not the day we became a nation (or our birth).

    It’s Insemination Day!

    Man, I’ve never been so glad I don’t have a styrofoam head as I am right now after watching that CPSC video! Happy 4th, everyone!

    mr. lukas,

    while i agree with the notions of your pandering accusations, i still believe there is an underlying bias from both “camps” (re: pro-roo-haha and anti-roo-haha) which can co-exist without interruption.

    i agree that the military subculture appropriates the sports subculture and vice versa. but aren’t these two subcultures already amongst the most closely related and even inseparable? (re: PROFESSIONAL sports is a highly-charged, win-first, and “cut-throat” behavioral system – much akin to military behavior.) isn’t this behavior (pandering, if you will) all operating under the natural guidelines of each subculture?

    to me, it’s like getting all “up in arms” at McDonald’s when they get your order wrong. it’s McDonald’s – of course they got your order wrong! you’re in freaking McDonald’s after all…

    here, in the United States of Advertising there is really no way of “disarming” the panderers. also, as we find more and more subcultures available through different means, we can choose to ignore the machine. i feel like drawing any more attention to the supposed pandering is like searching for “weapons of mass-destruction”. pro-sports can be a weapon just as much as the military is a weapon. can’t we see that and just keep buying our hot dogs and “beer tanks” and have a moment or two of escapism? it’s the shaming of the pandering that i can’t “fall in line” with. it’s feeding an already unfortunate, albeit obvious, connection between subcultures.

    also, i know you are celebrating with friends, but isn’t today (or whatever the feck day one thinks we became a country) the BEST day to search for further enlightenment on national issues? that said, it’s time to grill!

    (note: i don’t agree that today has “nothing” to do with the military. i mean, we had to both intellectually AND physically fight… for our right… TO PAAAAAAANDER!!!)

    Actually, Timothy Matlack wrote the declaration (it’s his handwriting whereas Jefferson just penned the ideas

    As a Nationals fan, today is a uni-tastrophe. The Nationals already have a blue stars-and-stripes clown suit specifically designated for wearing on patriotic holidays. (Because they’re named the Nationals, and they play in Washington, which is both our nation’s capital and a city named for and founded by George Washington, father of our country and all that.) Yet now that MLB has taken over jerseys, not just caps, for its stars-and-stripes bullshit, the Nats no longer wear their patriotic alternate clown shirts on Independence Day. I mean, look, if you want to argue that the A’s jersey is fundamentally anti-American, so they need to wear a special patriotic uniform today, you won’t get an argument from me. (Seriously, up yours, Oakland A’s.) But some teams already have America-themed uniforms. I wish the Nats would, um, declare independence and wear their normal patriotic alts today and tell MLB to stuff it with their crappy stars-and-stripes uniforms.

    I absolutely loved the decapitation by mortar in the fireworks safety video.

    The White Sox are wearing all the red accessories they usually wear with their 1983 throwbacks (as well as the blue/red 1983 logo jackets), but still wearing their standard black helmets. Probably would have looked better to wear the 1983 helmets – the logos wouldn’t match (but they don’t seem to care in the dugout), but at least the colors wouldn’t be so mismatched.

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