Independence Day Bonanza—The How, Where & Why Of Fourth Of July 2012 In Houston And Across Our Great Nation
(Blogger’s note—Here is a Fourth of July megablast of my recent posts on possible ways to observe the Fourth, Holiday events in the Houston area, and a Fourth of July Reading List. Please have a great and safe Fourth.)
The Fourth of July is almost here.
How can we best observe the holiday in a hopeful and patriotic way.
Here are some thoughts—
* Please treat working people well over the holiday. Anybody working the Fourth is working a holiday. If you were working a holiday, you would expect to be paid at a time-and-a-half rate. We all have the option of treating fellow working people the same way we would like to be treated. Tip at a time-and-half-rate on the Fourth as matter of simple respect for others and as a matter of self-respect.
* Please drive safely. Houston and everyplace in this nation is filled with crazy drivers who will ruin your life over nothing.
* Take some time over the holiday to learn some of our shared history. Here is a link to Fourth of July book suggestions. Here is a link to the Declaration of Independence at the National Archives.
* Take the time over the holiday to engage in some form of activism to out forth your view of a more perfect union. Every Texan and every American has the ability to attend a public meeting, attend or organize a protest, write or call an elected official, talk to friends and family, start a blog, donate money, write a letter to the editor, volunteer for candidates and causes, engage in acts of civil disobedience, and to run for public office.
What could be more patriotic than treating each other well, learning something, and acting on our beliefs?
There are many events planned to mark Independence Day for 2012 in the Houston area. The Fourth falls on a Wednesday this year.
(Above—Fireworks over Houston.)
In addition to the events listed in this post, there ways you can observe the Fourth in a patriotic fashion on your own. We don’t have to wait for somebody to put on a fireworks show.
We can express patriotism by treating each other kindly, by treating our fellow working people well, by being accepting of all people, and by learning our shared history instead of being ignorant.
At the end of this post is my Fourth of July Reading and Reference list which has some good resources to learn about our nation’s history.
Patriotism is an everyday affair and is well-expressed by being a good fellow citizen to the everyday people who make our nation–for better and for worse–what it is.
A worthwhile thing to do before the fireworks is to attend the Bayou Bend Fourth of July celebration.
Here are some details about the Fourth at Bayou Bend—
“Celebrate Independence Day at Houston’s home for American decorative arts and paintings. The annual 4th of July blowout at Bayou Bend offers up an extravaganza of Americana: performers, crafts, activities, refreshments, and more. Don’t forget to sign the giant Declaration of Independence before you leave!”
Bayou Bend, run by the Houston Museum of Fine Arts is a great year round place to learn about early American history.
The big fireworks show in the Houston area is the Freedom over Texas festival that is held on the Fourth. This event will take place in Eleanor Tinsley Park. There will be a lot of people at this festival and it will be very hot.
Please note this reminder from the City of Houston on the Freedom Over Texas webpage—
“The Houston Parks & Recreation Department regulations prohibit dogs, amphibians, reptiles and snakes that are considered dangerous. Therefore, we require the ban of all such animals…”
I’m not certain which amphibians and reptiles are viewed as dangerous and which are not.
Another big event is the Houston Symphony’s Star Spangled Salute which is held on the Fourth at the Miller Theater in Hermann Park beginning at 8:30 PM.
Red, Hot & Blue is the fireworks event to be held in The Woodlands on the evening of the Fourth. Fireworks is a fine way for The Woodlands to note the Fourth. Getting it right for the Fourth is a sharp contrast to the inappropriately celebratory manner in which The Woodlands noted Memorial Day 2012. You’ll have to decide for yourself if a place that sees Memorial Day as just another time to shop is the right place for an expression of loyalty to our nation.
In Galveston there will be fireworks at 37th and Seawall at 9:15 PM. I bet the fireworks are nice along the ocean.
The Galveston County Daily News usually does a good job listing holiday events in Galveston County.
Sugar Land promises “an 18-minute spectacular fireworks show that will color the sky with magic and majesty.” Here are the details.
Rosenberg in Fort Bend County has an event planned for the Fourth.
The George H.W. Bush Library in College Station has the “I Love America“ celebration all day on the Fourth. There will be fireworks at the end of the night.
I’m not being sarcastic when I tell you that I would go to the Bush Library for the Fourth if my schedule allowed. The Bush Library event would be my first pick.
I’m certain I’ve left off many events on this list, If you have something you’d like me to add to this list, please leave a comment and I will add your event.
Here is my Fourth of July Reading & Reference list—-
(Above–Black Americans observing the Fourth in 1939 in St. Helena Island, South Carolina.)
What books and resources would be helpful to learn more about the American Revolution and about America?
As I’ve said before, I don’t believe the Revolution was a liberal or conservative event in the sense we think about such things today.
Some of the Founding Fathers were religious. Others were not. The Revolution had some aspects of a tax revolt. But who can know if folks in the early days of the nation would not have paid more taxes to get all the garbage out of the street or to prevent so many women from dying in childbirth? Some of the founders believed in government being run from state capitols. Others supported a stronger national government.
Anybody who asserts that the American Revolution was a liberal or conservative victory in the modern sense is more concerned with today’s politics than with historical facts.
At the bottom line, it is up to you to know and understand our shared history. If you allow others to define your past, they will likely use that power to help bring about a future you don’t want.
(Below–1887 Fourth of July picnic in Custer County, Nebraska.)
Here are some suggestions for strong sources to learn about the life in North America before colonization, after colonization, at the time of the Revolution, and to learn about the full history of our nation.
* 1491–New Revelations of the Americas Before Columbus by Charles C. Mann
There was a whole world here before 1492. 1492 is one marker in history. There is little understanding of who lived in the Americas before Columbus. American history did not begin in 1492 or in 1620 when the Mayflower arrived.
* Mayflower–A Story of Courage, Community, and War by Nathaniel Philbrick
There are starting points in American history other than the landing of the Mayflower. Yet learning the story of the Mayflower is basic to knowing our history.
* Before The Mayflower—A History of Black America by Lerone Bennett.
In many ways, nothing is more central to the American experience than the history of black Americans. So much has turned on the decision to bring black people to America, and on how those unwilling immigrants responded to life in North America.
* American Colonies–The Settlement of North America by Alan Taylor
This book is a good way to learn about the British colonies. It includes chapters about not just the 13 colonies we all know and love, but also has chapters on British Canada and about colonies in the Caribbean.
* History of American Women–A blog.
This blog is a useful resource to know more about women of early American history.
The website has pictures and details of most of the pieces in the newly reopened.collection.
* Patriots–The Men Who Started The American Revolution by A.J. Langguth
This book reads like a novel. It is an enjoyable and informative way to learn about the events and personalities of the Revolution.
* The Penguin History Of The United States by Hugh Brogan
The Penguin History is a one-volume non-ideological account of our nation that discusses the events of the Revolution and then goes on to provide the full context of American history. While I do sometimes read history books written from the left or the right, I find I’d rather have a balanced account that leaves ideological judgements up to the reader.
* A People’s History of the United States by Howard Zinn.
This is the definitive liberal history of the U.S.
As a liberal, I’m confident that an examination of the facts–In a way both comprehensive, and sympathetic to the strengths and weaknesses of our fellow men and women— will lead to a view that America is best when it is welcoming of people of all kinds, and that government has, in tandem with the hard-work of a free people, a role to play in providing a basic social safety net for its people.
In any case, it is your responsibility to learn your history and to consider what this history means in terms of your beliefs and actions in the world.
If you allow someone else to define your past, they will likely use that power to mess up your future.
Learn the past so you can be a hopeful and relevant part of the future.
(Below–How some see the Fourth of July. It is fine as far is it goes. But there is so much more. The painting–called The Spirit of ’76– is by Archibald Willard.)
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