Posts Tagged ‘4th of July’

Letter From Claverack 07 04 2017 Thoughts from the creek on Independence Day…

July 4, 2017

It is as idyllic as it can be here at the cottage.  On an achingly clear day, the sun shines brightly through the green leaves of the trees.  A bee buzzes somewhere, the creek is so clear you can see its bed, the air is filled with the thrumming of insects and a soft wind moves the leaves gently.

My coffee is strong and I am slowly rising into the day, the Fourth of July, 2017.  My nephew, Kevin, is asleep in the guest room and it is so wonderful to be here, in this spot, enjoying the beginning of this day.

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Kevin prepping for a game of backgammon.

            It has been a blessing to have been here this spring and now summer, to see the earth return from winter’s sleep, bloom green and touch the peace of this spot.  Not far away, a deep throated frog croaks, signaling.

All of this is a treasure and a privilege and a boon to my sanity.

As I sat here, on this day which celebrates the birth of the United States of America, I was thinking what a messy birth and history it has been.  It means so much to, I think, all of us and yet those individual meanings are all mixed and jumbled, and so infused with anger.  The Week’s cover for June 30th had a “Blue” and a “Red” American glowering at each other, with a line asking whether “Are Red and Blue America headed for a divorce?”  The article is about a culture of rage.

And, as we live through this time in our country’s history, with the very real sense of rage on both sides of the political spectrum, I am doing my best to remember that the history of this country, for better or worse, has been driven by a sense of rage.  From the Boston Tea Party through our current Trumpian dystopia, there has been rage.

We didn’t part peacefully from England, we warred our way to independence.

We fought a Civil War from which, quite frankly, I don’t think we have ever recovered.

We have assassinated four presidents and there have been numerous other attempts which didn’t succeed.  Yes, violence is in our American DNA.

We ripped this land from Native Americans, dragged captives from Africa to work that land as slaves, built our version of the Athenian Empire and are now, and may always be, attempting to reconcile all the ugly facets of America with all the beautiful things it has been and can be.

Immigrants have flooded here from the beginning.  Each new wave was met with hostility by those who had come before.

It is ironic but not surprising that one of our current flashpoints is immigration.

An acquaintance of mine, a young Rabbi, recalled his immigrant grandmother hiding as a girl as mobs ran through New York’s streets, screaming, “Kill the Jews!”

America has been and is an experiment and other countries are experiencing our challenges.  The relative homogeneity of Europe is being challenged by the flood of migrants sweeping in, seeking a better life as did the millions who flocked to America, also seeking something better.

Change is hard and unwanted change is often met with rage.  We are a country constantly changing so it is not surprising we are raging.  Because of the acceleration of communication capabilities, we are more knitted together than with greater challenges in finding veracity.

I savor my idyllic spot and cling to the hope that reconciliation will come.  Not in my lifetime, I know, but at some point, America will hopefully become what so many politicians have called us, the bright and shining city upon the hill.

 

  • President-elect John F. Kennedy said, in an address to the Massachusetts Legislature on January 9, 1961, “During the last 60 days I have been engaged in the task of constructing an administration…. I have been guided by the standard John Winthrop set before his shipmates on the flagship Arabella [sic] 331 years ago, as they, too, faced the task of building a government on a new and perilous frontier. ‘We must always consider,’ he said, ‘that we shall be as a city upon a hill—the eyes of all people are upon us.’ Today the eyes of all people are truly upon us—and our governments, in every branch, at every level, national, State, and local, must be as a city upon a hill—constructed and inhabited by men aware of their grave trust and their great responsibilities.”—Congressional Record, January 10, 1961, vol. 107, Appendix, p. A169…”[4]

Let us remember this as we close out this year’s celebrations, let us face each other with the light and love Christ had when He, in the Sermon on the Mount, provided the base message for Winthrop, Kennedy, Reagan and others.

 

Letter From New York 07 04 2016, via the Vineyard… A 4th that Disney would be proud of…

July 4, 2016

It is a picture perfect 4th of July in picture perfect Edgartown on Martha’s Vineyard.  Happy 4th, everyone!  I hope it is picture perfect wherever you are…

Yesterday, as I was shuttling back and forth from the bookstore, I kept thinking how carefully curated Edgartown is by the town fathers.

Joyce had a half price bookstand on the porch of the bookstore and they cited her for having that; it was too unseemly for the town.  It now rests in a corner in the bookstore.

It feels like they all went to the Walt Disney School for Civic Perfection.

Visually stunning, the little town of Edgartown, is a haven for preppies.  In town, we are awash in pastel and Lilly Pulitzer.  I had forgotten that salmon was the color of choice for WASPS.

Oak Bluffs is much more diverse than Edgartown, and each part of the island has its own feel. Edgartown is prep, all the way.  I think that Igor and Mischa, the two baristas at “Behind the Bookstore” are the two edgiest characters in town and loved by everyone. There is no doubt that “BTB” has the BEST coffee on the island.

There will be massive fireworks, I understand, though I am not sure I will be seeing much of them as I am closing the bookstore tonight, a role I frequently play.  Last night we closed at ten and I didn’t get back until 11:30 and didn’t unwind enough to sleep until one.  Ten percent of the day’s take was done in the last hour as folks wandered in after dinner to have books to read this beautiful 4th.

There is an interesting opinion piece in today’s NY Times about the Declaration of Independence being partly driven by a fear of Indians and slave revolts.  You can find it at:

http://www.nytimes.com/2016/07/04/opinion/did-a-fear-of-slave-revolts-drive-american-independence.html?_r=0

It is fascinating, interesting, explanatory and gives me cause to think, which is good in an opinion piece, whether at the end you agree or not. 

The British, in attempting to quell the rebellion, were agitating both American Indians and slaves.

Yesterday, Jeffrey, Joyce and Joyce’s niece, Julie, and her husband, Mark, along with Joyce’s sister, Elyse, went clamming and came home with 219 of them, near a house record.  Before I leave for the store, there will be a feast of them and other things before Mark and Julie fly back to New York and I leave to deal with the madding crowds that will be roving Main Street after dinner.

And as we celebrate, I am also taking a minute to bow my head in memoriam for the 200 plus dead in the bombing of a marketplace in Baghdad as Ramadan nears its end.  And for those who were killed in Holey’s Cafe in Dhaka by six armed men, in turn killed by security forces.  At least several of the attackers came from elite families, without want and well-educated.  Their families are left without explanations and with tremendous guilt at their sons’ actions.

The Paris attacks, 9/11, the Madrid train attack and all other killings on Western soil are terrible and damning and yet I keep being reminded by things like the marketplace bombing in Baghdad that IS is mostly killing other Muslims.

Now, as I sit on the veranda, overlooking Edgartown Harbor, that world of violence is far away.  Boats motor or sail by with easy grace on still water, birds chirp, the sun shines, American flags wave in the light breeze.  It is a day the town fathers of Edgartown could not have choreographed better.  Uncle Walt would be proud…

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Letter From New York 07 04 14 Happy Birthday, America!

July 4, 2015

Today is the birthday of the United States and I am spending it in Baltimore, sitting in a lovely apartment in the Inner Harbor area called Fell’s Point. Outside it is, as almost everyday seems to be this summer, grey.

We all went to see “Inside Out,” the new film from Pixar and it was everything I didn’t expect it to be. It was heartwarming and brought tears to my eyes. I highly recommend it. A young girl from Minnesota migrates with her parents to San Francisco. In a mishap, the emotions and characters Joy and Sadness get lost with all her good core memories and poor Riley, the girl, finds herself left with Disgust, Anger and Fear. Not a good combination. But the combination of elements in the film make it wonderful and so, once again, I highly recommend it.

We are waiting to see the fireworks tonight – unless they pull a rain check and decide to do them tomorrow though the forecast for Sunday isn’t better than today’s.

While America is celebrating its birthday, the Dalai Lama is celebrating his July 6th birthday all weekend with a whole series of parties. Happy Birthday! The venerable Dalai Lama turns 80 on Tuesday.

As America celebrates its nationhood, Vladimir Putin has sent holiday greetings to President Obama and suggested there were many things they could work on together, like global terrorism. Obama apparently reminded him of the necessity of living up to the Minsk Accords, which require Russia to pull back men and armaments from Ukraine. I suspect it was not a jolly conversation but at least they’re talking, always a good thing.

Yesterday, I mentioned that IS has begun destroying some of the ancient artifacts of Palmyra. One of the noted spots in the ruins is an amphitheater where, I suspect, the plays of the ancients were performed. I’m sure there was nothing quite like a good comedy by Aristophanes to lighten a moment in Roman times.

Yesterday, the amphitheater was used by IS as a stage for killing 25 captured soldiers. The firing squad was composed of militants as young as 13 and 14.

Iraqi jets soared over Mosul earlier today, dropping not bombs but leaflets promising that soon a campaign to free the city would begin. A new radio station, Mosul FM, would soon begin broadcasting and the city’s citizens should listen to it for instructions when the campaign to retake the city begins.

IS did its best to keep people from reading the leaflets.

In the meantime, bombs in Baghdad killed 19.

Tomorrow is the fateful day for Greece. They will go to the polls to vote yes or no about the bailout that has already expired. Apparently, media is encouraging people to vote yes while the government is encouraging a no vote. Lots of Greeks aren’t really sure for what they’re voting. Polls indicate it could go either way, with the country seeming to be split almost exactly down the middle.

European leaders are predicting a Greek collapse if the vote is a no. The Greek leaders are telling the Greeks that it will give them a stronger position in negotiating with their creditors.

Let’s just hope it doesn’t bring a collapse for the rest of us if Greece votes no.

While Greece is voting, the British will be celebrating the christening of Princess Charlotte Elizabeth Diana of Cambridge which will occur on the Queen’s Sandringham estate at St. Mary Magdalene Church on the grounds. The Princess is fourth in line to the throne and generally someone this close to the throne would be christened in London but the Cambridge’s are breaking with tradition.

It will give the world something happy to focus on while watching the vote in Greece.

Right now, I am munching on cheese and crackers while writing and sipping a martini made by Lionel. Our chairs are on the balcony, facing the Inner Harbor, ready for the fireworks.

It was here, in Baltimore, that Francis Scott Keyes composed the “Star Spangled Banner” during the war of 1812, a song set to a ditty that was making the rounds of London’s Gentleman’s Clubs in the late 1700’s.

I hope all of you have exceptional and safe 4th of July’s.