Confused about Independence? Parade Anyway!

One of many Norman Rockwell illustrations that tweak American values. Image from Saturday Evening Post.

Maybe the United States was always just people who liked to party! Looking at the history of why this day is celebrated, July 4th in particular, I came across many pictures of people marching, making speeches, and eating, but also so many claims that were kinda sorta not quite right. Maybe it’s buried in our history (oh, in everybody’s history) to blur those pesky details and bring on the fireworks.

To digress a moment, last in night in Zumba class, our instructor as usual picked something inspirational to stretch at the end. She likes themes of “celebrate yourself” or “be good to others”; Bob Marley works well. Last night, she decided to play “God Bless the USA,” because it was the day before July 4th. But that song is a jingoistic, uber-Christian celebration of the military. She even interjected at the end, perhaps sensing the over-the-topness of the sentiment– “the world, too, not just the USA” — but of course that misses the point of the song, which is that America is Number One and Everyone Can Suck It Because They Don’t Have Our Freedoms. And I’m looking around at a room, full of the diversity of the East Bay (Asian, Latino, Russian, Black, White, and all things between), 100% full of people whose ancestors were immigrants. We do all bless the U.S.A., but NOT for the reasons that the singer was espousing. This is SUCH a confusing country. Yet, from the time we declared Independence Day, the people in this country were always going in multiple directions at the same time, so maybe it all fits.

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