The Fourth of What?

The only significance I can find with the Fourth of July is that we all take the holiday together. We take the day off, fire up the barbecue, drink beer, go to the beach or forest, clog the freeways—-make love—–all on the same day (those on the east coast do it three hours earlier).

This year the Fourth falls on a Tuesday, so as recompense, some of us also get Monday the Third off from work.



Don’t get me wrong. I’m not trying to be cynical. I love my country and independence and fireworks and watermelon and cookouts.

But independence in 1776 didn’t come on the Fourth of July, nor in 1776. On the Fourth of July in 1776—-nothing happened.

I think it was the Eighth of July or something like that when the Declaration of Independence was actually signed. The achievement of independence took many different days from the first shot fired at Concord Bridge, to Yorktown and beyond—none of them on July Fourth.

The Fourth of July in that way is like Christmas. Christ wasn’t born on December 25. There isn’t even agreement on what year B.C. or A.D. Christ was born. Somebody just decided to pick December 25 (Mother’s Day was invented in the 1930’s by a guy who loves his mother).

The Fourth of July is like Memorial Day. Police hate these days because people go wild. Bad things tend to happen. People drink and drive, drink and swim and sink, drink and climb trees and get electrocuted by power lines, and drink and get hurt other ways.

Caution is temporarily abandoned.



Memorial Day is supposedly held to remember veterans and deceased loved ones. Since I remember mine on many other normal days—why do I need one official day to remember them? As with the Fourth of July, it’s so we can all do it together.

The Fourth of July used to be celebrated by mostly adolescents and teenagers blowing off firecrackers made in Mexico. I think this is supposed to symbolize the rockets’ red glare, and the bombs bursting in air. But the Mexican-made connection is becoming more significant. Half our population in western states are Latinos, some of whom wave the Mexican flag.

Patriotism has never been as strong as the desire for a day off.

I blew off firecrackers even when they were illegal and only stopped doing it last year. One time a firecracker had a defective fuse and blew up in my hand. Another time I accidentally touched off five packs of firecrackers in a small hotel room. Do you have any idea what that sounds like?

Miraculously, I wasn’t evicted from the room.

I’m a pure individualist. I’ve threatened to celebrate my own holidays, especially those commemorating events that didn’t happen on the officially assigned days, on other days. Thus, I’ll celebrate July Fourth on July Sixth, and Christmas on December 28.

The beaches and highways are less crowded on July Sixth, and great after-Xmas sales discounts can be had on December 28.

I’ll only celebrate July Fourth if it falls on a Monday or Friday, and I get a three-day weekend. Pragmatism.

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