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July 03, 2008

Margie's 4th of July Story

Margie's 4th of July Story

By Me, Margie

Blog_declarationofindependenceToday is the 4th of July. We call it our country's birthday. I'm not sure that's exactly correct, but that's another story. For September, probably. Even though no one in my family lived in America at the time, I still know what happened. How? People talk, baby. You just have to listen. So here is the real story and I hope you like it.

Once upon a time, there was a king. We're going to call him Fat George because he was both. Not that there is anything wrong with being fat. Fat can be happy. George, as you may have already guessed, was a mean fat. I think the itchy wig and the heavy clothes were partly to blame, but also the fact that he was, by all reports, a total jagoff.

Like all Kings, George made up dumbass rules and didn't really care about the consequences. There was a Parliament too, but they were just as bad as Fat George, and basically worthless when it came to even recognizing anything moronic. So they supported FG's stupid rules like "I don't really practice any religion, but I have an official one, and you have to be in it." Idiot rules like: "I don't like the cut of your jib - or jab - or whatever - so I am going to lock you up and throw away the key." Stuff like that. These rules were called laws, and the King's cops enforced them. Emphasis on the force part.

Some people got really sick of the bonehead rules and they decided to move somewhere else. Now, in those days, you couldn't just call up Movers-R-Us and get a truck. No. You had to get on a big, yuck boat (okay, it started out as a nice boat, but got yuck pretty quick, and I don't need to explain why, because that is even more yuck).

And so it came to pass that more and more people said things like "Verily, the monarchy is oppressive and a man is compelled to seek refuge from tyranny." That's how they talked back then, but what they really meant was "Fuck this. I'm outta here."

And thus people made the big, yucky trip across the Atlantic Ocean and settled in America. Which was called 'The Colonies' because Fat George claimed they were still part of his kingdom. Which is a good trick, by the way, and it worked for a long time in some countries. But that is another story.

But Fat George - like most jagoffs and kings - was true to the dark side of his fatness. He wanted more. He started taxing the colonials. Taxing is taking money from someone without really asking even though they might not get anything back. The colonials smelled a rat. A Big, Fat, Rat. With a wig and a crown. They started meeting and planning what to do about Fat George. Naturally, some of them just wanted to cap his ass, but the problem there is that there is always a Fat George descendant of some kind ready to take over. Plus, it turns out there was some inbreeding there, and you just don't want to take a chance with that kind of genetic roulette. Seriously. I mean, look around, people.

Fat George's troops - who always wore red, because it is very flashy and cool (but dumb as hell in a fight, as anyone who has ever done target practice can tell you) kept running back to Fat George and telling him "There are words of insurrection and treason upon these distant shores which must be countered without mercy." Which means "The natives are restless, man. We need to kick some ass up in this mess."

Fat George didn't listen. Big surprise there, huh? Instead, he instituted a new tax on tea. Tea, in case you didn't know, was a bigass deal. Huge. Bigger than beer, even. I'm talking enormous. And what does that mean? Big money. This whole tea thing is a whole 'nother story, and shows just how important smugglers, rum-runners and longshoremen in bad disguises were to the development of this country. A toast to them.

And thus the colonials made a New Rule: "No taxation without representation", which, if you have been paying attention to the blog for the last year or so, means: "I gotcha teabags right-chere, Fat George."

From then on, it was one thing after another, and then finally a group of men met in Philadelphia to try to figure out what to do. I say men because they are the ones who got all the press. Why? They owned the presses. Duh. Don't tell me that women didn't do the work. Sure, they may have done it in positions that never made a Trumbull painting, but trust me when I tell you, they were there. Nothing against the signers - most of them true Patriots - but don't think for one minute you could have all that ego and testosterone trapped in one room without someone who knew how to manage it. I mean, Jefferson and Franklin alone needed an entire staff of...okay, just saying.

Blog_trumbull_dec_of_indTwo and a half years - which was a long time in those days because the average life expectancy was only about 35 - after the Boston Tea Party, they finished the Declaration of Independence, which was signed on July 4, 1776. Why did it take so long? Well, it wasn't easy to get all those people to agree. Hell, you try getting even half a dozen people to agree on what kind of damn pizza to order. It's a madhouse. So really, the fact that they did it at all - with no word processing or anything - I mean, every time some bone wanted to change one word someone had to re-write the whole entire thing. I don't even like to cut and paste, man. By Draft #6, I'd have been punching people in the face. Not pretty. And Philly in the summer with no A/C? The smell wasn't pretty neither, kids. Talk about 'my kingdom for some bloody Febreze, mate'. Totally.

Finally, they all signed it, and sent it to Fat George, who was a total pain in the ass and didn't like to read, so he had someone translate, and this is the official translation: "Your highness, the colonists are most unhappy and in their dissatisfaction have published complaints seriatim and in turn have announced their intention to sever all ties with his majesty's kingdom." The unofficial translation, which was spread all over town was: "Holy shit, the colonists have put out a Jag List on George and flipped him the big bird - on paper and everything. Da-yam. I mean they totally hosed the guy sideways."

Fat George was not amused, as you can imagine. So he gave the basic shoot-to-kill order on all the colonists. But Lo and Behold (we all remember what that means, right? Miracle Comin'.) the Colonists beat the Brits and Fat George pretty much shit himself. Never saw that one coming, y'know?

All told, it took over eight years of brutal fighting before the actual Independence part occurred. Eight years is a really, really long time. A time that tried men's souls, and soles, actually. Both of which are very tragic things indeed. So we need to give the proper salutations and respect to the men and women who fought for freedom. Which I totally do. Because lots of people would have just rolled over and paid the taxes and put up with the bullshit. We are lucky that the people who settled here were tough as nails and willing to live out their words. When they said "And for the support of this Declaration, with the firm reliance on the protection of the Divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes, and Our Sacred Honor" they damn well meant it. That is called walking the walk, in case you didn't know.

And they lived, if not happily, at least in relative freedom, ever after. More on this later in Margie's Constitution Story.

The End.

So Happy 4th of July - celebrate your independence and don't forget to tip a hat and a glass to all the founding fathers and mothers and soldiers who made it possible for us to talk about a king or a george any freaking way we want.

P.S. To our own SusanCo, who's son is home from the war, and to all the other warriors and their families - a big hug and kiss from Me, Margie for all you do.

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Comments

Beautifully told, Margie. I got a lump in my throat reading your version of the founding of our country. To think, I spent how much per credit and spent how many hours learning what you have so succinctly explained.

I am proud to reside in a country where even the Furry can walk the streets freely. Maybe we can join them next year.

She, Margie, said, " A time that tried men's souls, and soles, actually. Both of which are very tragic things indeed. "

Yeah, it's a hu-u-u-u-u-u-ge day. And I like the way you imply Michele's shoe thang is rooted in American tradition and patriotism and shoe repairfolk. Whodathunkit?

Happy fourth everyone and an extra tip of our hats to all our veterans and those who serve in the armed forces today.

This is more a Constitution issue than an Declaration of Independence issue: Does the 1st Amendment apply in your house? What do you say when your teen says "The 1st Amendment gives me freedom of speech?" Especially when that teen has (overnight) exercised his "freedom of speech" by defacing the family's flag with a Sharpie and masking-taping it to the inside of the front door? I guess it could have been worse. He could have burned it in the foyer, ruining the runner.

We've always told our children that the Constitution doesn't apply in the family, 1) because we aren't the Government, nor recognized proxies, and 2) Because We Say So.

Does the Constitution apply to any of your children in their arguments with you?

The answer, Josh, is let him deal with the wrath from the community. If he has a reason for what he did, then let him state it clearly and articulately to everyone who blasts him. You know - free speech and all.

kids

Would that another George would come out of the bushes and read your post, Margie!

Happy 4th of July, everyone. Let freedom ring.

The Court of Maternal Order in my house never gave much of a damn about the Constitution, or Civil Rights, and there sure as heck was never any kind of Miranda Warning.

Still and all, it's good to know Michele's shoe obsession is a serious expression of her patriotism....:)

Was Margie watching John Adams with the sound off again?

Me, I'm hoping SusanCo is having a bigass picnic with her son today!

Well, it's always interesting to hear Margie's version of history. Her translation skills are certainly a wonder. And who else could manage to make a shoe reference for this event?

Janis - Amen.

There were no discernible civil rights law in my house growing up. And like William's house - no Miranda. Not sure what would have happened if I defaced the flag, but I can tell you it might have involved long-term therapy as a follow up. Josh - forget the Constitution - no state action here. Your son is free to express himself though - but he has to replace the flag if it didn't belong to him. The next conversation would be whether he had the right to post it on property he doesn't own. Either way, having a discussion on freedom of expression is a great way to start the holiday weekend!

Happy 4th, everyone!


Josh, the Constitution may give him the right to deface *his own* flag and not be locked up for the speech aspect of that conduct. But if he defaces the family's flag, he's still responsible for damaging your property and messing up your display on the Fourth. Civil disobedience is subject to reasonable rules about time, place and property damage. Make the kid pay, it's the American way!

Happy Fourth, everybody, and thanks for a beautiful blog, Margie. I love this country. The Second Amendment, not so much.

"we mutually pledge to each other"

A critical part of the Declaration, and a segment I sometimes forget. We can (or not, if we choose) pledge allegiance to the flag, to America, to a candidate or officeholder, but the most important thing we do is pledge our allegiance to each other. It is only through our allegiance to each other that we can maintain the freedom of the individual.

Ah, Margie, you got me into deep thinking this rainy morning. But I'm over it now, and off to look for a ripping American barbecue...

Margie - once again, you nailed it. Not to be political (since this isn't a political blog) but some of elected leaders, and those running for an office, need to review what our founding fathers wanted to accomplish. Do you really think it was make as much money as possible and screw the results?

Happy Fourth, y'all.

Amen to all that! I love you, Margie. I love you all youse guys. I love this holiday. I love the girls and boys in uniform. I love fireworks.

Margie, my semi-wayward daughter is thinking about taking her very good degree in Political Science and becoming a high school Government teacher. She and her students (if she actually goes through with it, which is by no means sure) will need a copy of your explanation, writ large and posted boldly. If only for the translations.

Happy 4th, all!

Kerry, the best news all day is that somebody's "wayward daughter" is inspired to become a high school government teacher. There's hope for our nation!

"made it possible for us to talk about a king or a george any freaking way we want." Brilliant! I've sent out the TLC link as a 4th of July greeting to many friends. I propose Margie to take the place on NCLB and make education relevant and FUN for all of us. My take on "soles" was to think of the bloody footprints at Valley Forge -- that's some kind of determination!
Josh, your post raises good issues. My parents never saw their home as a democracy, more of a shared monarchy and a united front of parental authority. We complained at the time and thanked them later. I would tell my Am. Lit. students, when they read Thoreau and were tempted to try some civil disobedience, that they should remember the part about accepting consequences. We read (and they actually enjoyed) _The Night Thoreau Spent in Jail_, and they knew he INSISTED on going to jail for not paying his taxes.
Interesting that your son placed his statement on the inside of the door, limiting the exposure of his expression.

Steve, "even the Furry"?? What did I miss?

"made it possible for us to talk about a king or a george any freaking way we want." Brilliant! I've sent out the TLC link as a 4th of July greeting to many friends. I propose Margie to take the place on NCLB and make education relevant and FUN for all of us. My take on "soles" was to think of the bloody footprints at Valley Forge -- that's some kind of determination!
Josh, your post raises good issues. My parents never saw their home as a democracy, more of a shared monarchy and a united front of parental authority. We complained at the time and thanked them later. I would tell my Am. Lit. students, when they read Thoreau and were tempted to try some civil disobedience, that they should remember the part about accepting consequences. We read (and they actually enjoyed) _The Night Thoreau Spent in Jail_, and they knew he INSISTED on going to jail for not paying his taxes.
Interesting that your son placed his statement on the inside of the door, limiting the exposure of his expression.

Steve, "even the Furry"?? What did I miss?

"made it possible for us to talk about a king or a george any freaking way we want." Brilliant! I've sent out the TLC link as a 4th of July greeting to many friends. I propose Margie to take the place on NCLB and make education relevant and FUN for all of us. My take on "soles" was to think of the bloody footprints at Valley Forge -- that's some kind of determination!
Josh, your post raises good issues. My parents never saw their home as a democracy, more of a shared monarchy and a united front of parental authority. We complained at the time and thanked them later. I would tell my Am. Lit. students, when they read Thoreau and were tempted to try some civil disobedience, that they should remember the part about accepting consequences. We read (and they actually enjoyed) _The Night Thoreau Spent in Jail_, and they knew he INSISTED on going to jail for not paying his taxes.
Interesting that your son placed his statement on the inside of the door, limiting the exposure of his expression.

Steve, "even the Furry"?? What did I miss?

"made it possible for us to talk about a king or a george any freaking way we want." Brilliant! I've sent out the TLC link as a 4th of July greeting to many friends. I propose Margie to take the place on NCLB and make education relevant and FUN for all of us. My take on "soles" was to think of the bloody footprints at Valley Forge -- that's some kind of determination!
Josh, your post raises good issues. My parents never saw their home as a democracy, more of a shared monarchy and a united front of parental authority. We complained at the time and thanked them later. I would tell my Am. Lit. students, when they read Thoreau and were tempted to try some civil disobedience, that they should remember the part about accepting consequences. We read (and they actually enjoyed) _The Night Thoreau Spent in Jail_, and they knew he INSISTED on going to jail for not paying his taxes.
Interesting that your son placed his statement on the inside of the door, limiting the exposure of his expression.

Steve, "even the Furry"?? What did I miss?

Apologies for the multiple posts. I kept getting error messages -- I should know not to believe those stinkin' messages.

Meanwhile, I'm remembering an overheard conversation in Boston one 4th, a woman speaking to a British visitor. "There will be fireworks and barbecue. We won that war. Get over it." May we all "get over" whatever we need to get over and have a wonderful day!

Best wishes to Kerry's "wayward" daughter. If she teaches, she will be an asset -- it often takes the "wayward" to guide the wayward, and students are fun! Learn to ignore the administrators -- my "NCLB Murder" (unpublished but gladly e-mailed to friends) short story safely sublimated my homicidal tendencies and kept me from prison.

It took a great deal of courage to pull those thirteen separate colonies along with their separate ego into one nation and then make sure the whole thing worked fairly well(which it didn't for a while in the turbulent '60s--1860's that is).This holiday always makes me remember how many freedoms I take for granted and renews my gratitude to the men and women who make sure every day that I will keep those freedoms. Hats off to all of them, wherever they serve!
Happy 4th and fireworks all!
(Oh yeah, and thanks Margie. You really need to put these stories in a book!)

Josh, what a great educational opportunity. First, freedom comes with responsibilty and when one commits an act of civil disobedience, one must take responsibility and recognize that there may be consequences related to such an act. Second, while we, collectively, live in a democracy, your son currently resides within an oligarchy and he has whatever rights are bestowed upon him by the few in the ruling class. As my dad put it, "This house isn't a democracy."

Storyteller Mary, "Furry" is a reference to a project Margie and I have planned for quite a while and the should provide some interesting insight into the psychology of the human animal. The trouble is we only have 3-4 day annual window to work on it and we just missed it for this year. We need to get organized earlier and, well, you know Margie.

I hope everyone had a great Independence Day.

My parents enjoyed allowing us freedom of expression, they even encouraged us to reach for the stars. However the stars and stripes...well...Had I defaced a flag as a child, my father would've tanned my hide. Dad was a Colonel in the Air force. We were brought up to take pride in and respect our flag. We never would've thought to deface it no matter what we were trying to prove.

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