Today Americans celebrate the 4th of July...America's Independence Day. I know there are going to be blogs everywhere extoling the virtues of the United States, so I wanted to do something a little bit different. I want to recognize that many of the symbols we associate with our "freedom", actually come via other countries. Or the facts we know may be just a little bit squewed. I'm not trying to incite a riot or upset any patriots...I just want to look at things from a slightly different point of view.
First, let's begin with the day itself. Why do we celebrate today? I think most people will answer "Because its the day the Declaration of Independence was signed!" Wrong! It was the day it was adopted by the 2nd Congress. It was read on the 9th, when it was approved by the 13 colonies, officially created on the 19th, but it didn't actually get signed until August 2nd!
Betsy Ross created the original American flag, right? Wrong! The flag that was created to represent the new country was created before the Revolutionary War by Rebecca Young. It was the flag General Washington raised on New Year's Day 1776. It was also our official flag on July 4, 1776. Now, did Betsy Ross actually make our flag? Well, she was a flagmaker, and made flags for almost 50 years, which is where her notoriety comes from. The "Stars & Stripes" flag (originally with 13 stripes & 13 stars) however, was created by Mary Pickersgill in 1813. It was the flag that was flying over Fort McHenry during the War of 1812 that was seen "by the dawn's early light" by Francis Scott Key.
Speaking of Mr. Key, the author of our American anthem, "The Star Spangled Banner", he was witness to the 25 hour retaliation attack of the British against the Americans at the fort during the War of 1812. Indeed, the in morning when the British ceased fire, the flag was still flying. He felt inspired and wrote the poem "The Battle of Fort McHenry". It was soon published in many places, and someone came up with the idea to sing it. However, the music ironically, is a popular English drinking song "To Anacreon in Heaven". It wasn't officially made our national anthem until 1931.
That same night's non-stop cannon & gunfire by the Brits is also the reason we celebrate with fireworks.
And let's not forgot that the quintessential figure of freedom, the Statue of Liberty, was a gift from the French in October 1886.
So today let's not be so ego-centric as to believe that we wouldn't have our freedoms of liberty, or the symbols of that, without the rest of the world.