July 4th or Independence Day in the USA commemorates the founding of the country after winning its independence from Great Britain through the American Revolutionary War. Certain aspects of this war, also called the American War of Independence, have become iconic: the Declaration of Independence, the Boston Tea Party, Paul Revere's Ride, the Battle of Bunker Hill, Washington Crossing the Delaware, and numerous visual images of the stars and stripes, battles, and uniforms.
Most of us easily recall that Indian tribes fought on both sides, and that some in America remained British Loyalists, but many of us forget that there were other allies on each side. With the American revolutionaries were France (always happy to fight Britain, and especially to take over its other colonies), India, and the Dutch Republic (also involved in wars with Britain, as duelling colonial powers). The British had allies among a number of principalities that would later be part of Germany. The war extended northward into Canada, then a British colony, and southward into the West Indies. Through attacks by French against British holdings in other countries, it spread further abroad as well. I only learned relatively recently that African Americans served on both sides, and were among those resettled, as free men, in the British colonies that would become Canada. The Siege of Yorktown effectively ended the war, and the Treaty of Paris 1783 finalized it.
I have never been to the USA for the 4th of July weekend, but the celebrations are iconic too: parades, fairs, picnics, barbecues, fireworks. I have been in other countries with American expats, and appreciate that they are far more inclined to mark the day than Canadians are to celebrate Canada Day abroad, though some do. The most memorable 4th of July for me was one I spent in France as the guest at a picnic/barbecue held by the members of a very famous American modern dance group which was touring and performing in the city where I was staying. This was during the same summer in which I had my other cross-cultural adventures, as described in Cross Cultural Misunderstandings--Part I Truth, Lies, and Laundry, and Part II Watch What You Eat!.
I met the Americans in the city I was normally based at, in an outdoor swimming pool, where I was busy hanging upside down and doing lengths of synchronized swim skills. I finally looked over after much commotion, to see 3 African American men doing extremely respectable imitations. Ah, dancers, that explained it, elite dancers...even better an explanation.
The dance group was mixed race, and mixed single and with family, so it was a fun get together with children playing about, and sharing travel stories. There was touch football (of the non-soccer type), as I recall. I was very struck by the efforts they went to in order to reproduce this celebration in France, and while performing and touring. Of course, they were very friendly and casually hospitable, as Americans tend to be, so I felt very at ease. No fireworks that I recall--I had to wait for the 14th of July for that, Bastille Day, the birth of the Republic of France, after its revolution against its monarchy and aristocracy.
The photos here, like those in the post Happy Memorial Day!, were all submitted by various Americans for a "photo assignment" on Ree Drummond's award winning blog The Pioneer Woman. They are my favourites out of many other excellent ones representing America in the lead up to Independence Day in the USA, July 4. More can be seen at The Pioneer Woman, Photography, in five daily groups from June 28 to July 2, with the finalists and the winner announced on July 3 and July 4, respectively. The assignment was described in the announcement as originating from a commentator's suggestion:
“How about America? Americana?The results are wide ranging in specific theme and style. My own most favourite opens this post: a spectacular recreation of the Pulitzer winning (1945) photo Raising the Flag on Iwo Jima, after the Battle of Iwo Jima between American and Japanese forces in the Pacific Theatre during WWII. The story of the original photo is compelling, and I find the innovation of using children silhouetted in front of a backdrop of heightened colour compelling as well. Others, though, are very close seconds to this favourite amongst favourites.
Red, white and blue. Fireworks, etc.
What images, beyond the flag, symbolize America to you?”
Happy Birthday USA!
Happy 4th of July!
What are your favourite photos here? Which tops the list?
What symbols do you think best represent the USA?
What are your favourite images of America?
How will you/did you celebrate the 4th of July this year?
What traditions do you have on this day?
If you are new to the USA, have you been invited to participate in a 4th of July celebration, or have joined in one of the public ones?
What was it like?
How does it compare to national celebrations in your own country?
Any other thoughts, comments, experiences?
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