Independence Day

Happy 4th July, America!

The history of it all, in my limited understanding, is fascinating. With the first settlers setting up a British colony, through the War of Independence, the story is the stuff of legends.

On reading about the War of Independence, I was interested to learn that it never started out as such, more that the colonies wanted more autonomy from the UK. Years of frustrations boiled over with the Boston Tea Party, a political protest against a punitive tax, resulting in crates of tea being thrown into Boston Harbour. The British government response to blockade the harbour and effectively put Massachusetts under military rule.

From there, the war kicked off and, as is said, the rest is history. At the end of the war at the Battle of Yorktown, the British surrendered and left their garrison allegedly playing ‘The World Turned Upside Down’, which is rather fitting.

Although at the outset, the colonies wanted more was the ability to handle more of their own affairs without London rule, they ended up taking full control. Although the British did feature again in 1812 and tried to burn down the White House, with partial success, in the backdrop of the Napoleonic Wars.

On behalf of my fellow countrymen, I apologise for that act of vandalism.

There have been many significant points in history, such as the Civil War, prohibition, the Depression, two world wars, Civil Rights Act, Vietnam, right to modern day, events that changed and shaped not only the US, but farther afield.

Immigrants poured into the country, contributed and help make America the most diverse country on the planet, showing what can be done if everyone worked together. Sadly, it has been forgotten over the years and divisions have formed over race or ethnicity, such is the human condition.

So many fantastic achievements in US history, such as space exploration, internet, flight and inter-continental cable communication. The list is not exhaustive and all areas that I find interest, as well as deep admiration for the skill and resolve required to achieve such landmark events.

The fact that a man was put on the moon in a craft with the computing power of a modern calculator is pretty astounding achievement.

I do think the best achievement of all though was the civil rights era, where segregation was still legal in the US and people actively campaigned to change it. There was peaceful, non-violent protest planned as a movement and people like Martin Luther King, Malcolm X and many more, inspired acts of bravery and defiance, as in the case of Rosa Parks, in many people, not just blacks.

One of the most important quotes of that generation that I believe in and value is ‘I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character.’ That speech is one of the most important ever made and to me, should be studied and understood by every person on the planet. It would stop a lot of hate and misunderstanding right in its tracks.

America has to be celebrated for its culture, food, music and cinema, with a wide range of all genres present and originating from within. I have a love of music and so many wonderful genres have come from the US, such as bluegrass, C&W, as well as a fantastic rock & indie culture. Think of the 50s, rock n roll, leather jackets, Thunderbird, diners and drive ins – it evokes a strong feeling, even in those who were not born then.

Then there is Hollywood and the movie scene. Still going strong, the powerhouse of world cinema and has many golden eras, starting with silent movies, the first talkies, the blockbusters. Wide and varied, it’s certainly given the world entertainment.

Today, there are many issues facing the US and seismic change once again appears to be on the cards, politically and culturally. How it will end up is anyone’s guess but the US won’t shy away from a change or a big decision, which is a great part of the culture. I hope the people win the day, getting what is best for them, not the few.

Here’s to you, America. I raise a glass to you and hope today is another good day.

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