Tag Archives: Independence Day

Fireworks!

Typed on the evening of the 5th back home in Lira.

Yesterday was a busy, busy day.  I tried to see everyone I could, which resulted in saying hi to George when I woke up before flying across the city to Nando’s, a food court I had never visited while in the city before.  After having a bite to eat, I walked to Garden City – a big shopping mall, and called Tony on my way to meet up.  Wandered a little bit before meeting up with Tony for a drink.  Tony is one of the Rough Cut boys from Invisible Children, and I hadn’t seen him since he came to ASU as a part of the Legacy Tour last fall, so it was really nice to catch up.

From there I got a call from Alison, who also happened to be in the city, and Tony and I went to a cafe next to Nakumatt to meet her and her friends (a group of girls from Jefferson University who were staying with the same mutual friend as Alison).  From there I made my way back across town to Wandegeya and met up with Morris for a bit.  All in all a very back-and-forth day but I’m so glad I got to see everyone – the only people I didn’t get to see were the NACWOLA group in Nsambya but I will do that before I leave!

In the evening I joined up with Alison, Ross (her friend in Kampala), Tina, Anne, Shari (Jefferson group), and a girl named Kristin from Minnesota (all staying with Ross) and made our way to the American Recreation Association for the 4th of July party.  We laid a blanket out on the lawn and saw some local tribal drummers which was pretty cool.  After that we grabbed a bite to eat – and that was small boiled hot dogs which was a little disappointing.  Regardless, I still had three hotdogs and my fair share of soda.  Then there was a presentation by a crew of children, presumably of expats.  Not only did they do the Virginia Reel (a variation of the square dance, apparently) and sing “God Bless America,” but they also recited their oath and their code.  It was surreal.  The fact that the oath included a praise to “our lord and savior” didn’t help.  It seemed really out of place.  Afterwards they brought out the expected giant American flag cake, which turned out to be less than savory according to Anne but I didn’t have any. That said, I had a lot of fun hanging out with the girls (Ross inexplicably vanished and then would return with a drink and then vanish again) and getting to know everyone.  Kristin was doing a data study on (i think) meningitis.  The girls from Jefferson were working on a project (Rotary-funded!) to bring motorcycle ambulances to a small village in the country.  And after some so-so performances, a group of local dancers and drummers came out and put on a really good show.  My camera was dying I was able to get a few gems:

Finally, the big show!  At 8 o’clock (which seemed early to me but it was definitely dark enough) the fireworks started firing.  I was pleasantly surprised at how long the show lasted and how big some of the firework displays were.  I used up my camera in the final minutes of the show:

My friends, enamored by fireworks!

The gals: Shari, Tina, Kristin, Alison, Anne

Why is July 4th Important?

On our way to the 4th of July party yesterday, a friend-of-a-friend was explaining to our driver why the 4th of July was important.  The driver was trying to figure out why we celebrated a day that we signed a paper on not the day the the Revolutionary War ended.  A few hours later I saw a friend’s facebook status explaining that we didn’t become an independent nation until years later.  So, why is July 4th, 1776 so important?

Yes, the Revolutionary War didn’t end until late 1781 with the Battle of Yorktown.  Correct, the Constitution (the law of the land) was not ratified until 1787.  True, George Washington didn’t take office until 1789.  But on July 4th, 1776 we made a statement that meant more than just “we’re independent.”  Even though it would be a decade before our country had a real government and decades still before this government could stand up on its own, 1776 was the birth of our nation in a totally different sense.

The Declaration of Independence isn’t like any other out there.  Many declarations simply cite that one group of people no longer wish to be under the rule of another and wish to separate and be, well, independent.  But our Declaration didn’t say the people in the thirteen colonies were claiming independence from Britain.

More than that, our declaration states that when any government mistreats its people, that it is the right (and duty) of the governed to fix or change that government.  Only after making this bold statement does the declaration go into why the colonists sought separation from England by listing grievances “to a candid world.”  Maybe it’s the freedom-loving side of me or the historian side, even the human rights side, but I’m pretty sure our declaration brought about a sea change in the relationship between the government and the governed and I think it is great that we can celebrate that – it’s not just the literal independence from a foreign ruler, which didn’t take place for another five years.  It’s the celebration of a new idea for the world.  I’d light a few fireworks for that.