Texas Liberal

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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 American wing of the New York Metropolitan Museum of Art.

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.)  

June 30, 2012 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , | Leave a comment

2012 Fourth Of July Events For Houston, Galveston, Fort Bend & College Station—Fourth Of July Reading List

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.

Here is a list of some Houston area fireworks shows from the Houston Chronicle.

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.
Continue reading

June 23, 2012 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

2011 Independence Day Events For Houston & Houston Area—Fourth Of July Reading List

(Update–6/24/12—Here is the list of 2012 Houston area Fourth of July events.) 

There will be many Fourth of July events in the Houston area this upcoming weekend. The Fourth falls on a Monday this year.

(Above–Fireworks.)

In addition to these events, you might also wish to take the time over the holiday and after the holiday to learn more about the American Revolution and American history.

You can start right here by reading and learning about the Declaration of Independence from the National Archives of the United States. 

Here at Texas Liberal, the view is that the Fourth of July is holiday of equal importance to all Americans. No side of the ideological debate in the United States has the upper-hand in who values The Fourth the most.

This post has links to events in Houston and, after these links, an Independence Day reading list. If you plan to head out on the Fourth in the Houston area, you might want to check to be sure that fireworks are still planned at your event. Our drought is ongoing.

Events—

* There will be a free outdoor concert put on by the Houston Symphony at Miller Theater in Hermann Park on the Fourth. The concert begins at 8:30 PM.  After the concert there will be fireworks.

* Bayou Bend Gardens on Memorial Drive in Houston will be hosting a free Fourth of July fesitval from 1 PM to 5PM.  There will be colonial music, a Betsy Ross presentation and a Declaration of Independence that you can sign.

* The big City of Houston event is Freedom over Texas.  This festival, which ends with fireworks, begins at 4 PM in Eleanor Tinsley Park.

* There are events over the holiday weekend in The Woodlands which include a Houston Symphony concert on Sunday the 3rd and a fireworks show on The Fourth. 

* There will be a variety of events in Galveston for the weekend of the Fourth.   These events will end on the Fourth with a fireworks display over the Seawall at 9:15 PM.

* The Galveston County Daily News publishes a daily list of Independence Day happenings for all of Galveston County.

* The good folks in Pearland are having an observance  for the Fourth at the Pearland High football stadium.  The festivities begin at 6 PM.

* There will be fireworks at Buffalo Run Park in Missouri City for folks in Fort Bend County to enjoy. This event starts at 7 PM.

* The George H.W. Bush Presidential Library in College Station will be offering up the free I Love America all day on the Fourth. I say without irony that this I Love America deal at the G.H.W.B. Library looks like a pretty good festival.

If there are events I’ve missed, please leave a comment and I’ll add them to the list.

Please also recall that we are having a drought. Personal use of fireworks has been banned—as far I can determine—for the entire Houston/Galveston/Fort Bend/College Station area.

Do you really want to be responsible for starting a grass fire or burning down a neighbor’s house in these hot and dry conditions?

Here is the reading list promised at the top of this post—- Continue reading

June 26, 2011 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Houston Fourth Of July Events—Will Texas Republicans Who Say Texas Should Leave Union Observe The Holiday?

File:Declaration independence.jpg

What will be going on in Houston and around Houston this Fourth of July?

Will the near-majority of Texas Republicans who say that Texas would do well to leave the union observe the holiday?  

( Above–John Trumbull’s Declaration of Independence from 1819.  Please click here for a key as to who is who in the painting.)

Will parents talk to kids about the historical events around the holiday—even for just a few minutes—and in so doing provide the occasion with some meaning beyond just hanging around all day?

Here are facts about the Declaration of Independence from the National Archives.

Here is a link to more Independence Day facts and history

There are events in the Houston-area to mark the Fourth.

The City of Houston has an official fireworks show on the Fourth.  Please click here for the link to the event.

There are also other fireworks shows in the area. Here is a link with many of them listed.  

Galveston has many Fourth of July events.

Here is a later and  updated listing of events from the Houston Chronicle.  

Here are Fourth of July dog safety tips. Please keep your dog safe over the holiday. Your dog loves you.

Please have a nice and safe holiday. Please be careful with fireworks and be mindful that we are having a drought in the Houston-area and that every day is almost 100 degrees. You might be better off leaving the fireworks to the pros.

Please do not drink and drive over the holiday. The roads are full of drunks and nuts. Please don’t be one of these people.

Please have a nice holiday.

July 2, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Instead Of Blowing Off Your Fingers While Shooting Fireworks During A Drought, Why Don’t You Read A Book Instead?

File:OperaSydney-Fuegos2006-342289398.jpg

Why is it that people feel the need to buy fireworks? And why do people buy fireworks when drought conditions are ongoing or likely upcoming?

The Houston Chronicle recently ran a story about the varying regulations in counties in the Houston-area and in counties throughout Texas regarding fireworks. Today the Chronicle reported that a fireworks ban in Harris County has been extended through July 6.

( Above—Fireworks in Sydney Australia. You cannot recreate this at home.)

With much of the Houston-area in drought or near drought conditions, it is not certain to what extent the sale of fireworks will be permitted this year for Independence Day.

The sale of fireworks is banned in the City of Houston.

From the Chronicle story—

Between 2000 and 2007, there were 259 reported fireworks mishaps in Harris County, causing more than $2 million in damage. …In 2007, at least 21 Texans were taken to hospitals with fireworks-related injuries, according to the Texas Department of State Health Services.

The risk of injuries and fire and all sorts of trouble is the big point here. Just what are the odds that people buying fireworks are using them in as safe a manner as possible? As safe as possible to the extent fireworks can be used safely at all? 

Here is what the Centers for Disease Control says about preventing fireworks injuries—

“Remember- the safest way to prevent fireworks-related injuries is to leave fireworks displays to trained professionals.” 

Here is some more information on fireworks safety from the CDC. 

Instead of launching fireworks and maybe blowing your fingers off or torching your neighbor’s home, I propose that you read a book instead.

A novel I’m reading at the moment is Johnny Tremain. It is the story of a boy in Colonial Boston who sees all the great events in Boston leading up the American Revolution. There is plenty of action and you will learn about what it was like to live in Boston in the 1770’s.

 Please consider reading a book instead of losing an eye this summer when the fireworks you light go off course and leave you maimed. 

June 22, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

I’m About To Enjoy A Big Fourth Of July Burrito

I got a big burrito waiting for me in the other room.

I’m going to eat that burrito in just a few minutes. 

It’s a big Fourth of July burrito.

I pay my taxes, vote, work hard, know my American history well, and try to be helpful to others.

And if I say, or if you say, that a burrito screams Independence Day, that’s just what it does.

I don’t care about any flag pins, or about any hot dogs and hamburgers or any of that.

Nope. I’ve got a big Fourth of July burrito to eat—one day early—and that is plenty American enough for me.

July 3, 2008 Posted by | Uncategorized | , | Leave a comment

Black Americans Celebrate Independence Day In 1930’s South Carolina

intermediary roll film

The picture above is of a Fourth of July celebration from the late 1930’s held near Beaufort, South Carolina.

I wonder what Black Americans felt what was worth observing about Independence Day in depression-era South Carolina.

National ideals and creeds that might one day be reached?

A sense of community that could not be broken even by the conditions of such a time and place?  

Whatever the reasons, the gathering seems to me an expression of some sort of confidence. 

My inner-conservative will show, but look how people are dressed in the picture in contrast to what we often see today. The women here are in dresses. The men are wearing hats.

People today—I mean people of all colors—need to get with the program and have some respect for themselves. I saw a young woman a few days ago walking around in a t-shirt extolling the virtues of farting.

What is the story with people?

The photo is from the American Memory collection of the Library of Congress.

The picture was taken by Marion Post Wolcott. The profile of Ms. Wolcott is interesting. She took her pictures as part of a New Deal project.

July 2, 2008 Posted by | History | , , , | 5 Comments

Tip Your Server Time-And-A-Half On Independence Day

If you eat out on the Fourth of July, or if you use any service that normally involves tipping, it is the right and patriotic thing to do to tip the person helping you at a time-and-a-half rate.

If you normally tip at 15%, leave 22.5%. And so on up the scale.

This is the pay rate you would expect to be paid if you were to work on a holiday.

If you are not paid this rate for work on a holiday, please don’t take that out on somebody else.

Celebrate Independence Day by doing right by your fellow American.

Also, do right by any immigrants you encounter. 

July 1, 2008 Posted by | Tip Your Waiter Time-And-A-Half On Holidays | , | 2 Comments