In the early days of American history, the founding fathers were a little fuzzy about which day of the first week in July they wanted to celebrate American independence. In 1778, General George Washington, who became the first president of the United States in 1789, saw to it that his soldiers got double rations of rum for the event. In 1776, John Adams, who became the second president of the United States in 1797, and was recently commemorated in a decent HBO miniseries, said the occasion “ought to be solemnized with pomp and parade, with shows, games, sports, guns, bells, bonfires, and illuminations.” Over time, the holiday has been more or less formalized and somewhat regional. Parts of the American South refused to celebrate July 4th for some time because they were pissy about losing the Civil War. Well, in a way, everyone loses a civil war, but, in this instance, I mean lost in the battle-followed-by-formally-admitting-defeat way and not in the personal and societal loss way. It was actually not until 1941 that Independence Day was formalized as a paid federal holiday on the 4th of July and celebrated all through these 50 states.
Even when I worked on government gigs, back when I lived in the Washington, DC area, I was always a contractor and I don’t think I have ever gotten a paid holiday from any job I have ever held. Apparently, being my own boss is no improvement, as I’m making myself work today. At some point this evening, I’m going to go up on my roof with some family and friends though. During the day, I can see the Hollywood sign from my roof, but, on fireworks-oriented occasions, my roof is one of the best views in town. Los Angeles is very spread out, so there tends to be no one single awesome fireworks display. So I enjoy my 360 degree view of many smaller displays.
I think maybe next July I will try to be in Washington, DC for the occasion because I’ve never seen an Independence Day fireworks display which rivals what the nation’s capitol does on the Mall in the District of Columbia. Although I was impressed when Vegas did New Years up over-the-top one year by demolishing a hotel as part of the fireworks, I think we’d all prefer it if no buildings were blown up as part of the DC fireworks today, however. So we’ll just leave that sort of celebration for the New Year in Las Vegas.
For now, could someone please pass me some charred food, give me the opportunity to say ooh and ah, and assure me a double ration of rum. Strictly for patriotic reasons, you understand. George Washington would have wanted it that way.