829 Southdrive

829 Southdrive

A New Jersey state of mind

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Independence Day

Every year just about this time, we Americans get all sentimental
and patriotic about the history of our great nation, including the 
events leading up to our bold and brazen declaration:  
" We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created
equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain
unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit
of happiness............"  Damn.  I get all fuzzy when I think about it.
And it's good to feel that way, I think.  As someone who was born
and raised in America, it's only natural for me to have a deep
sense of pride when I think about my country and the sacrifices 
of all my fellow countrymen and women over the centuries who 
have selflessly put their lives on the line so that I may enjoy the
freedom that defines being a citizen of this great land.

There are, however, myths associated with some of the 
more widely-believed events regarding this short period in
American history.  Here are just a few:

America's independence was actually declared on July the 2nd,,
1776.  Two days later, the document justifying the declaration
was adopted, thereby causing the confusion.

Unfortunately, the scene depicted in the above image of all of
the delegates signing the Declaration on one day in the same room
is inaccurate.  Most of them, apparently, signed the document
on August the 2nd, and several did not sign until later.  What I
will always believe, regardless of what I hear to the contrary,
is that whatever the date was that summer that they signed the
Declaration of Independence, it must have been m*th#rf^(k!n
hot in that room.  I was there in April and there were times
where I could have dropped like a lead balloon.

The Liberty Bell was never rung in celebration of the 
Declaration of Independence.  If it was, apparently
nobody noticed.  It did, however, receive its name in the
early 19th century as a symbol of the anti-slavery movement.

Poor Betsy Ross.  Not only did she not design or sew that
first flag with the 13 stars in a circle, but she never lived in
the house designated to this day as the Betsy Ross House.
Word has it that after 150 years of being buried in a colonial
graveyard, she was exumed and re-buried on the grounds of 
the  house she never inhabited!  

In April of 2007, a large group of my wife's relatives from Italy
came to visit.  They started in Washington DC, came up through
Philadelphia, then New York, and culminated the trip in North 
Jersey, where many of their cousins presently live.  Living the 
closest to Philadelphia, my wife and I were the designated hosts
for the day.  I arranged to have an Italian-speaking tourguide
 lead us around, because I only spoke kitchen Spanish.  It was a
day none of us will ever forget.  My wife's relatives are the most
loving, caring, and hospitable people I've ever met.  When we 
visited them in Italy two years before, they treated us like royalty.
The least we could do was try to treat them in the same manner.

The tourguide was a great liaison and made our job so much easier.
Most of these folks had never been to the states so you can imagine
how exciting this must have been for them.  Especially Massimo with
the Handycam, who filmed just about every moment of the trip.  At
one point, we laughed when we saw him following squirrels with his 
camera, as if they didn't have them in Italy.  As it turns out, there 
aren't many.  I'd actually like to get copies of his videos.  

Most of the Italian women in front of Independence Hall.  
They were not too concerned about the exact 
date the Declaration was signed.

We can't see the crack from this picture, but legend has it that 
the crack in the bell wasn't from it being rung vigorously, but from
it not being a well-made bell to begin with. Cousin Claudio who 
took this photo was also not too upset about the origin of the crack.

When we congregated in front of the Betsy Ross House in the
courtyard for lunch, I don't think they would have enjoyed their 
cheesesteaks from Jim's any less if they knew Betsy didn't actually
live there.  And man, did they enjoy those cheesesteaks!

Thing is, they were all just so damn happy to be here in America
after hearing so many stories for so many years about their 
American cousins and the different lives they led.  They knew
the general story of our country and our fight for independence.
And they appreciated our ways of life, just as we all did when
we visited them in their homeland.  It's no different really.
The way I see it,  after 50 years of seeing our history one
way,  a different light shed upon it won't change the pride 
I feel for my country and the way I celebrate independence.
Happy 2nd of July!  


  1. Happy 2nd of July (the Official Day of Independence) to you too Baydog!

  2. I still think the main reason for all the confusion is that the declaration was on the 2nd, but the barbecue was on the fourth.

  3. The barbecue was on the fourth, because the rum delivery was late, again. John told Tom to call Uncle Vito's, but somehow he was distracted. Everyone knows, you can't have a celebration without the consumption of adult beverages. I hear that Ben Franklin made a mean mojito.

    P.S. Great story, Dog! Avere una seconda felice di luglio!

  4. How dare you impute the skills of Messrs. Pass and Stow. I can assure you that that bell was perfect when it was delivered from our foundry and may I further point out that when you Americans broke it 90 years later it was well out of the warranty period.

  5. If the bell didn't have a crack, nobody would have been talking about it for all these years. It would have been just another big bell. That crack gives the bell its character.

    And perhaps it was a harbinger of the democracy that lay ahead. A reminder that our system of government is surely not perfect, but remarkable nonetheless.

    (BTW Mr. Stow, I think the word you want is "impugn" rather than "impute")

    Louis Armstrong was also not born on July 4th, as is frequently stated (it was August 4th), but if you were born in New Orleans, wouldn't you too want to celebrate it on the biggest barbecue day of the year?

  6. My colleague's vocabulary, like my bell, is a little cracked but remarkable nonetheless.

  7. "My bell"?????? I thought it was "our" bell. My name is on it too buddy!

  8. Which one of you two Johns decided it would be spelled Pensylvania?

  9. Don't spell like my partner!

  10. Don't spell like my partner!

  11. Gentlemen, please, we need to take responsibility for our past mistakes.

    How else are we to move ahead and solve the apparent crisis that we face on August 2nd (not July 4th)?

    One congressman was heard to say recently, "How can we be overdrawn? We have still have checks in our checkbook."

  12. Extremism in the defense of bankruptcy is no vice. Pass the tea please.

  13. Never forget the words of that great patriot Thom McAn who stood before the Continental Congress and proclaimed, "If the shoe fits, wear it!"

  14. ...!!!... Nice post and great comments! thanks for the historical truth!

  15. There are many people around the world who are inspired by the story of America and admire Americans for your dedication to freedom.

    As a boy growing up in England I was thrilled by the speeches of JFK and deeply interested in the American space program. I think that listening to that charismatic young president and admiring the huge achievement of putting men on the moon, made me realize how great America was. When the opportunity came to move to America I jumped at the chance.

    Happy fourth (or second) to all my American friends. Please never forget how important your country has been as a shining example to millions and millions of people all over the world.

  16. Tillerman, I'm both happy and grateful that you were so inspired by the words and initiatives of an American president, and by the vision of America he presented to the world. Of how many memorable blog posts would we have been deprived if you'd never crossed the pond to discover a little American sailboat?

    I think it's easy to forget how important a part of the president's job it is to embody in his actions and in his speech just who we are as a nation. His voice can launch a thousand little boats.

    Or not.

    I wonder how many young people today, in Europe, Asia, Africa, the Middle East, and in the Americas, look to us with the same awe and respect that inspired you. How many little boats are being launched and setting out for our shores today?

    I can only guess how difficult it must be to command that respect when limited to 144 characters.

    Let's enjoy our barbecues and our prosperity and our standing in the world and our independence.

    While we may.