Independence Day is a birthday party. As such, it is usually considered poor form to talk about the guest of honor's bad behavior in the past or present, dwell on his or her moral and ethical shortcomings, or stage an intervention about their excessive drug of alcohol use.
I am a poor guest because while drinking and eating the host's food, I would still tell them the truth about themselves if so provoked and pushed. But, I promise to be on good behavior today. I will do my obligatory read of Frederick Douglass' "What to the Slave is the 4th of July?", meditating on the little known fact that more blacks fought for the British than the colonies during the Revolutionary War, playing a few rounds of Empire: Total War, and watching Dr. Gerald Horn's interview on Democracy Now where he details how the notion of freedom as understood by white colonial rebels was constructed around their ability to enslave black people.
During the Revolutionary War and the battle for American independence, "liberty was in the air" and black Americans found ways, as we always have, to further our own struggle for liberty and full citizenship rights.
July 4th is a special day for Americans; July 4th is likely just another day on the calender for the rest of the world.
July 4th has history. Given the 100th anniversary of World War One, I was curious as to what major events occurred on that day during the Great War.
Of course, there were the obligatory parades commemorating American independence from the British (this set of photos is a very rich example of how World War One was a means for white ethnics and others to become "fully American" because military service and martial prowess demonstrated their bonafides as members of a "masculine" and "robust" race).
On the killing fields of Europe, July 4th, 1918 was the day when one of the most important battles of World War 1--and of the 20th century--took place. The Battle of Hamel involved a coordinated assault by Australian, British, and American forces (that latter being used in an offensive role for the first time during the war) which subsequently defeated the Germans.
Military historians consider the Battle of Hamel to be the beginning of "modern" warfare because it involved the use of "combined arms" (infantry; armor; planes; artillery). Hamel was also important because the Allied victory that day, and the strategies deployed during the engagement, would foreshadow the defeat of the Entente powers in the months to follow. The combined arms approach used at the Battle of Hamel is not much different from the strategies and tactics that remain the bedrock of military planning in the 21st century.
Do you have any July 4th factoids or other random bits of information (related or not to this day) to share? What are your weekend plans and any BBQ mishaps to report?