By R. D. Flavin
Good morning. In less than an hour,
aircraft from here will join others from around the world. And
will be launching the largest aerial battle in this history of
mankind. Mankind—that word should have new meaning for all of us
today. We can't be consumed by our petty differences
will be united in our common interests. Perhaps it's fate that
is the 4th of July, and you will once again be fighting
for our freedom, not from tyranny, oppression, or persecution—but
from annihilation. We're fighting for our right to live, to
should we win the day, the 4th of July will no longer
be known as an American holiday, but as the day when the world
declared in one voice: “We will not go quietly into the night! We
will not vanish without a fight! We're going to live on!
going to survive!” Today, we celebrate our Independence Day!
We balance our independence with dependence like kids on a seesaw (var. “teeter-totter”). Our freedoms, be they hallowed liberties or hoary illusions of certain “rights,” are tempered by needs both necessary and frivolous. As citizens, we are warned against not wearing seat-belts or texting while driving, spanking children, pets, or certain women, and voting more than once in the same election regardless of how much one giddily supports the candidate or proposed resolution. Meh… Last month, with awkward absurdity, our Supreme Court ruled that when someone is advised of their right to remain silent during a law enforcement interrogation or investigation that the “right” only begins when the person invokes the right unambiguously. That is, keeping silent is no longer sufficient and now a person has to speak before they shut-up (or be really good at sending telepathic messages). We depend on laws to guide and protect us. This July 4, 2010, I suggest we celebrate Dependence Day with attention to the “letter” of the law, as the “spirit” seems (at least for now) to be more than just a tad abstruse.
When I was younger in that
Shortly afterwards, others began to arrive in
It’s customary to list the April 19, 1775 Battle of
Cut it out! Cut it out! Cut it out! The hell's the matter with you? Stupid! We're all very different people. We're not Watusi. We're not Spartans. We're Americans, with a capital 'A', huh? You know what that means? Do ya? That means that our forefathers were kicked out of every decent country in the world. We are the wretched refuse. We're the underdog. We're mutts! Here's proof: his nose is cold! But there's no animal that's more faithful, that's more loyal, more loveable than the mutt. Who saw "Old Yeller?" Who cried when Old Yeller got shot at the end? Nobody cried when Old Yeller got shot? I'm sure. I cried my eyes out. So we're all dogfaces, we're all very, very different, but there is one thing that we all have in common: we were all stupid enough to enlist in the Army. We're mutants. There's something wrong with us, something very, very wrong with us. Something seriously wrong with us - we're soldiers. But we're American soldiers! We've been kicking ass for 200 years! We're 10 and 1! Now we don't have to worry about whether or not we practiced. We don't have to worry about whether Captain Stillman wants to have us hung. All we have to do is to be the great American fighting soldier that is inside each one of us. Now do what I do, and say what I say. And make me proud.
From Stripes (1981), written by Len Blum, Daniel Goldberg, and Harold Ramis; Columbia Pictures.
Those who we refer to as “The
Founders” of America, those good men and women (De Pauw 1975; Roberts
2004, 2008) who stewarded
liberty and made the most difficult of decisions, simultaneously
created government and defended it. With open warfare demanding
blood, American patriots united in mid-1776 to draft two essential
documents of intent, “A Declaration by the Representatives of the
UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, in General Congress assembled (var. United
States Declaration of Independence) and the Articles of Confederation
and Perpetual Union. The first document spoke to the world, while
the second (ratified by the Second Continental Congress on November
15, 1777) was composed just for Americans (Stampp 1978). Though
joined in the just cause of independence, the thirteen colonies
sought different laws of government and several “state”
constitutions were passed locally, thus necessitating a single,
federal compendium of standards, rules, and laws. Some of the
constitutions sought to reserve the right to designate a
state-established religion, though eventually this idea of stupendous
moral pettiness produced the required debate to formally separate any
'church' (or religion) and 'state' (i.e. the United States of America).
The United States formally separated itself from Britain with the September 3, 1783 signing of the Treaty of Paris which ended the American War for Independence. Four years later, the Constitution of the United States of America was completed and agreed upon, becoming national law on March 4, 1789. And, ever mindful of perpetual adaptation and predictable change as it might as well be unconstitutional to be constitutional (i.e. a "Living Constitution"), additions to the new Constitution (called “amendments”) were near immediate, with the first ten (known collectively as the United States Bill of Rights) becoming law on December 15, 1791. With the First Amendment, written with more attention to civil security than civic grammar, Americans could depend on their elected government not to do certain things, such as: “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.” The law of the land had come full crop-circle and “freedom of religion” was replaced with a freedom from religion if a citizen chose such.
American law, at federal, state, and local levels, has changed often as the United States has grown and matured as a nation. It hasn't been one long exposition on profound jurisprudence, mistakes were made and corrected, and with increased complexity comes great responsibility (and many political lobbyists). We depend on each other as kindred adventurers pursuing life, liberty, and justice. Sure, sometimes the local cop is a jerk, or the postman is annoyingly late, or your state representative won't answer any of your alcohol-fueled e-mails, etcetera, but Americans depend on the right to change laws (or at least to try really damn hard).
We espouse unity through diversity, yet
many American citizens continue to be discriminated against because
of antiquated and unjust laws. America's youth are grossly
misrepresented and age of consent laws need thoughtful re-evaluation,
sexual orientation and partnering options are for individuals to
decide upon and not just snarky talking points at the next meeting of
Daughters of the American Revolution, and our drug laws, though a
beheading and a firing-squad better than some countries are barbaric
and self-destructive as current anti-drug laws create more violence
than they prevent. So many laws need changing, some need to be
toughened and some softened, and wrongs should be righted sooner
rather than later. And, of course, new laws won't please
but America has to try. Gosh, Auntie Em, it just has to!
Our successful fight for independence
from a monarchy, our pledge to defend against any and all
theocracies, autocracies, and other forms of cruel government, has
allowed us to participate in a grand union of democracy,
egalitarianism, and humanistic futurism. We've chosen to become
dependent on each other, to trust and rely upon, to be subordinate to
the people's elected or appointed authorities, but without the
metaphors of blindfolds or hearing-aids. Unlike submission in
totalitarian regimes, we depend on some to give orders, some to take
orders, and the rest of us to do our best to stay out of the way.
This Dependence Day with backyard nature obeying backyard natural law, I hope July 5, 2010, or ASAP afterward, we return to trying to make better laws for a better America.
Maybe tomorrow I'll have a cup of the Long Island Iced variety of tea,