Monday, July 4, 2016

Independence Day

Today is Independence Day. At least this is the day we celebrate our independence from Britain. John Adams insisted we should celebrate on July 2, however, because that was the day the vote on Richard Henry Lee’s motion on independence was finally approved.
With all the attention the musical Hamilton has garnered, the American public is once again focused on our founding fathers.

I took an interest in the story of the struggle to get a resolution passed after we saw the movie 1776 for the first time. We immediately bought the cast recording and were surprised to find one of our favorite songs was missing from the movie. We saw the play onstage several times—with the missing song intact.

Several years later we learned that the film had been previewed at the White House, and then-President Richard Nixon objected so strongly to the song “Cool, Cool, Considerate Men,’ that producer, Jack L. Warner, a close friend of the president, ordered it to be removed before the picture was released. In fact, all film of the song was supposed to have been destroyed.

However, for the 2002 release of the DVD version, the studio scoured old files and located all the film cut from the original theatrical and video releases. The current DVD version is the complete play.
The writers of the original play took much of the dialogue from the writings of actual participants as well as minutes of the Continental Congress. The cast brings each of the historical figures to life. They become real people.

While not 100% accurate, this drama provides a sense of the individuals who struggled with the concept of revolution—or treason, depending on which side they were on.

After seeing this production, I have never been able to take the process or the actual men involved for granted. If you haven’t seen this film, I strongly recommend it. Viewing it has become an annual event in our house.

Perhaps, in honor of John Adams, we should have watched it on July 2nd.

Of course, the final irony is that John Adams died on July 4, 1826, the same day as his friend and adversary Thomas Jefferson. The two men, who arguably made the greatest contribution to American independence, suffered a rift in their friendship for many years. However, Adams began to write to Jefferson, and they corresponded until the end of their lives.

As Adams died, he said, “Thomas Jefferson still survives.” However, he was wrong. Jefferson had passed away five hours earlier.

So today we not only celebrate our freedom from Britain, but also the extraordinary lives of two exceptional patriots.

How will you celebrate today? Do you have any family rituals for the holiday?


  1. The biography of John Adams is worth reading. He was grouchy but had many good traits AND an intelligent wife. Jefferson was probably more fun to be around but remember he didn't even set his slave mistress free.

    1. I watched the TV version of the Adams book. I agree, he had an amazing and smart wife. I loved his portrayal in the movie 1776 by William Daniels. Jefferson was a conundrum, to be sure.

  2. Good post. I'd just learned about the two men dying the same day.

  3. I'm so glad that you posted about "1776 "". Back in the mid-70s I was fortunate enough to see the national touring company's version of that particular show and it was magnificent. My mother was chosen to be the violinist for their pick up orchestra and I will never forget the John Adams character giving her her bow for the violin solo of "he plays the violin". Mom had absolutely no idea that that was going on and it was a lot of fun to tell her about it well after the show had ended – – otherwise she would have been a storm of nerves! You have given me magnificent memories to share with you and your readers, Lorna. Happy memories while tears are streaming. Best wishes for a wonderful and happy Independence Day.

    1. This was a terrific score. So glad you had such a special memory off your mother with this show! Happy 4th of July! Give Al a hug from

  4. Thanks for this recommendation, I will get the movie. I became an American 3 years ago. I was born in Canada (British mother) and lived overseas from the age of 7 onwards. Being Canadian allowed us to be accepted in the British, French, British, Canadian and America embassies for national festivals. Canada is July 25th & July 1st. USA July 4th. France is July 14th. They all do parades, fireworks, days in the park, patriotic songs. Same celebration but each nation thinks theirs is unique and the best. The French win, hands down. La Marsailles is the most rousing national anthem and they would not be caught dead with a hamburger or hot dog with bright yellow mustard in bland spongy bread on a plastic plate! They prepare 10-12 delightful courses of playful haute cuisine interspersed with special spirits or wines, laughing and talking, never in a rush. Their traditions are an exquisite art form, they show-up impeccably dressed, but comfortable, and deliver the most relaxing, fun parties ever.

    1. Glad to hear that all nations celebrations are embraced. The neighborhood where we raised our daughter was the same. We celebrated EVERYTHING. (Any excuse for a party!)

      One of our friends, the wife of a US consular officer, lives with the family in Toronto. She has said she feels at home being an American in Canada. (Of course, she was born there and has family as well.)

      I wish our traditional holiday food was better! Yesterday we ate grilled chicken with baked beans, green salad, crudites, chips and dip, with crepes and fresh fruit for dessert. And we ate on stoneware with stainless flatware. (I, too, loathe paper plates!)