04 July 2005

A Birthday Party For America

Red-Eyed and Blue

America's civic culture hit a minor but telling low this afternoon in the form of a 4th of July announcer who forgot the words to the Declaration of Independence in front of 100,000 people. It was over a loudspeaker overlooking the esplanade and at least half of the city of Boston, who, up until that point, had been listening peaceably to Ray Charles instead. "Hit The Road Jack" shorted out. There was a pause. A woman came onto the loudspeaker and began to inform us of the program. In forty-five minutes, we'd be treated to a pre-show. We were encouraged to say hello to the people next to us so that we could remember why we were the greatest nation on Earth. Today, she reminded us, was the Fourth of July, America's birthday. Today - her announcer voice getting a little cracked - it would do us good to remember what got us here. She mentioned freedom briefly. Then she cited the Declaration of Independence, "the document that began all of this. We should remember what our Founders wrote, so many years ago: We hold these truths to be self evident, that all men are created equal." There was a pause. She clearly had forgotten how the rest went. "...And other words that are also in the Declaration," she concluded. She wrapped up. Pause. She came back on. Static crackled. "Oh, and sponsored by Liberty Mutual. Thank you, Liberty Mutual, for helping this event to take place."

Speaking of which, did you know that at the website of The National Archives you can click a link to 'join the signers of the Declaration of Independence'? Thanks to the wonders of modern technology, your signature can be digitally placed onto a full-size Declaration, which you can then print out and hang, the better to impress houseguests. You get the choice of three signature fonts - Colonist, American, and Patriot. Naturally, I chose Patriot. Fuck Colonists. They're practically immigrants. Now I've got my name where it always belonged. I'm a father of the country. The National Archives say so. Hell, George Washington is a piker compared to me. I've still got my real teeth.

Anyway, things are exploding over the skyline and it looks like a really pretty warzone. Have a good Fourth, everyone. Pound beers. Get shitfaced. It's what Thomas Jefferson would have wanted.

No comments: