Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Declarations for the 4th & 5th of July

"That all men are born equally free and independent, and have certain inherent natural rights . . . among which are the enjoyment of life and liberty, with the means of acquiring and possessing property, and pursuing and obtaining happiness and safety."
You probably think that Thomas Jefferson wrote these words, but actually, they were written by a neighbor of George Washington, George Mason, and then revised by Jefferson for the Declaration of Independence. I'm reading a terrific biography of Washington by Ron Chernow. Food for thought: At what point is it acceptable for someone to be considered the author of the words that s/he's edited? Talk about issues of intellectual property right at the get-go of this country's founding.

When I was a girl growing up in Brooklyn, July 5th was always a very busy, exciting day. I would get up early and comb through the detritus of the streets (this at a time when everyone had their own stash of firecrackers that they'd set off) for firecracker wrappers. For several years I collected these wrappers and organized them into pages in a scrapbook. I've photographed two of them. The one with the Apollo spaceship on it is from 1970. I loved the bright colors, the stylized artistry. Most of the fireworks (and I have to assume that the artwork as well) were made in Macau. I'd love to hear from anyone else who has such a peculiar collection. Of course, I have to wonder, What kind of a patriotic display is it if the fireworks are all made in China?

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