Saturday, July 5, 2014

Still Life With Robin: Independence Day(s)

Photo by Semnoz via Wikimedia Commons
by Peggy Robin

My Fourth of July column may be a day late but let me make up for it by treating you to a fireworks display from a perspective you’ve never seen before. This video was shot from a camera mounted on a drone flying through the bursts in the sky.

While we celebrated the 238th birthday of our country yesterday, it’s worth remembering that not all guests at the party have been able to enjoy it in the same spirit – and this sobering lesson was perhaps most eloquently expressed in 1852 by Frederick Douglass in his speech, “What to the Slave is the Fourth of July?

More entertaining, though still dealing with issues that are serious at the core, is this video about what being an American means to those of us who live in something other than one of the 50 States. This 6:23 minute clip educates us, not just about our own familiar plight of life without a vote in Congress here in DC but also covers the Virgin Islands, Guam, Puerto Rico, the Northern Marianas, plus a number of unincorporated, unorganized territories you probably never have heard of: Howland Island, Baker Island, Johnston Atoll, Kingman Reef, and Palmyra Atoll, to name a few.

I try not to let DC’s lack of clout in Congress dampen my spirts for our national day. I just like fireworks too much. In fact, I’ll take any country’s celebratory day as a time as an excuse to light up the sky. During the first two weeks of July, oddly enough, there is a plethora of patriotic holidays for countries around the globe.  Take a look at the list:

Abkhazia                             July 4     1993       Liberation Day from Georgia.
Algeria                                July 5     1962       Independence from France.
Argentina                            July 9     1816       Independence from the Spanish Empire.
Bahamas                             July 10   1973       Independence from the United Kingdom.
Belarus                               July 3     1944       The liberation of Minsk during WWII.
Burundi                               July 1     1962       Independence from Belgium.
Canada                               July 1     1867       New Constitution creates Dominion of Canada
Cape Verde                          July 5     1975       Independence from Portugal.
Comoros                              July 6     1975       Independence from France.
France                                July 14   1789        French Revolution begins with fall of the Bastille.
Malawi                                July 6     1964       Independence from the United Kingdom.
Rwanda                               July 1     1962       Independence from Belgium.
São Tomé & Príncipe              July 12   1975       Independence from Portugal.
Solomon Islands                    July 7     1978       Independence from the UK.           
Somalia                               July 1     1960       Formation of the Somali Republic.
South Sudan                        July 9     2011       Independence from Sudan in 2011.
USA                                    July 4     1776       Declaration of Independence from Great Britain.
Venezuela                            July 5     1811       Declaration of independence from Spain.

[Credit: Wikipedia:]

The first two weeks of July comprise just 3.8 percent of the year (14 days divided by 365 days), and yet 18 out of 196 countries, or 9.1 percent of all countries, have their independence day during that time period – which is to say, almost 2 and a half times the number of national days in that time as would be predicted by chance. Why is July such a popular time for national days? Perhaps because more revolutions are sparked during the heat of the summer when tempers tend to flare and people are more restive? Or it could be nothing more than a statistical anomaly, a number without a cause. Have I given some history Ph.D. candidate a research topic?

If I’ve piqued your curiosity, you might like to view this map of national days around the world, as shown on the website Vox: If you read the accompanying article, you will learn the answer to the bonus question: What two countries do not have a national day?  To all the rest, Happy National Day [Country], whenever that may be!


Still Life With Robin is published on the Cleveland Park Listserv and on All Life Is Local on Saturdays.

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