We had an excellent meal of steamed clams and steamed lobster tonight. When we got back to our cottage that fog was just starting to roll in across the bay as the pop of Independence Day fireworks began.
Archive for July 4th, 2012
Walking around Blue Hill yesterday, we came across these flowers growing through a fence line. They gave the sidewalk a pleasantly ramshackle feeling — and since the flowers are bright red, the fencing is white, and blue flowers are visible in the distance, the scene had a patriotic flair well-suited to the Fourth of July holiday.
On Independence Day, shouldn’t we also remember the conflict that some have called America’s second War of Independence?
What’s that, you say? A second War of Independence? I’m speaking, of course, of what Americans call the War of 1812 — when they talk about it at all, which isn’t often. Most people heard about the war in American History class, thought it was boring and confusing, and promptly forgot about it. That reaction isn’t surprising. Who wants to think about a war where Washington, D.C. was embarrassingly captured and burned?
The War of 1812 grew out of America’s status as a pawn in the global chess game between Great Britain and Napoleonic France. Both countries tried to restrict trade with the United States, a bit player in the Euro-centric world of the early 1800s, and the British routinely “impressed” — i.e., kidnapped — American sailors the Royal Navy encountered on the high seas. A fed-up Congress declared war on Great Britain, land and sea battles were fought, the White House and the U.S. Capitol were burned by British troops, and the British bombardment of Baltimore led to the penning of The Star Spangled Banner. The war ended with the Treaty of Ghent, in which the British agreed to leave the U.S. border with Canada unchanged and promised not to roil up Indian tribes in the American West, and America stopped insisting that the British end impressment. America then achieved its only significant land battle victory in the Battle of New Orleans, which was fought after the treaty had been negotiated.
Although most Americans have forgotten the inconclusive conflict, many Ohioans — including the Bus-Riding Conservative — are buffs of the War of 1812. That’s because one of America’s notable victories, in the Battle of Lake Erie, was fought just off Ohio’s northern shores. An American gunboat squadron commanded by Oliver Hazard Perry defeated a British squadron, and Perry wrote the deathless line “We have met the enemy and they are ours.” Today any reveler at Put-in-Bay — and there are likely to be a few — can hoist a cold adult beverage to Commodore Perry and salute the nearby Perry Monument that towers over the lake’s shores.
Amidst the hot dogs, and fireworks, and beer, and heat, let’s all take a moment to really feel that proud patriotic surge as we celebrate our freedoms and our independence — and let’s also remember that, although we may disagree on some things, Americans remain Americans, and what unites us far outweighs what divides us.
Happy Fourth of July!