Posted by: martinworster | July 17, 2009

65. INDEPENDENCE DAY

I know it’s a bit out of date due to a late posting, but…July the 4th – Independence Day. America’s Birthday. I’d never been in America for this occasion before as it always coincided – coincidentally – with my summer trip to the UK. As a Brit I can’t help feeling a tad jilted that all those years ago America decided to sever ties with us. At least we still – sort of – speak the same language.

 

In the days leading up to the celebrations the Stars and Stripes started to appear everywhere – even more than it does normally. It’s not uncommon to see the American flag hoisted outside houses or on car bumper stickers all through the year as they are much more patriotic. On the 4th everywhere you looked it was bunting and flags. ‘Happy Fourth!’ people greeted each other. Although wary of strong nationalism, I’m slightly envious of the fact that they get together to celebrate. The Irish have St Patrick’s Day. The Welsh St Davids, the Scot’s St Andrews. We have St George’s day – barely celebrated. Although on most occasions I think most forms of nationalism can be a bit unconstructive, in England it’s like we’re ashamed to be proud when we shouldn’t.  

 

On the Saturday we went to watch the parade in Huntington Beach. Local’s had chalked out their spots on Main Street. The streets were packed, cyclists everywhere with American flags, girls in Stars and Stripes bikinis, overflowing with Americana, pomp and display. Marching bands paraded up the street. Jets flew low overhead leaving blue and red vapour trails. There was a  big military presence in the parade – tanks, marching soldiers, officers. Generals in Hummers saluted to the applauding and whooping crowd. It felt slightly weird for me, all this self-congratulating propaganda, aren’t-we-great chest beating. I even saw a float with a sign reading ‘Mobile Mine Assembly – Unit One – Seal Beach’ go past – I thought mines were banned? A few floats later soldiers came past with metal detectors – as if looking for the mines. It was like a comedy routine – the timing immaculate.

 

One of the floats had lots of white men dressed up as Native American’s – all feather headresses, furry boots, the whole Running Water get up. That also seemed a bit weird and insensitive. Another float carried the ‘Jewish War Veterans’. Sombrero wearing Mexican’s rode past on horseback, with flags, one the Mexican the other the California Bear. California used to be Mexican – and still is really in many areas.

 

Finally I saw a Christian evangelical group – waving lots of placards with bold fonts aggressively trying to get their message across; ‘God Will Judge The World’, ‘God’s Word Is Truth’ and ‘Turn From Evil’. On seeing that last one I turned around and left. Next year I am planning on a ‘British Colonial Atheists’ float to proudly join the disparate voices and march down Main Street waving the Union Jack.

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Responses

  1. mmmm… girls in Stars and Stripes bikinis – I kinda dig that part.

    I have some Union Jack: jockey-smalls-pants. I could have probably dropped my trousers with them on and caused a proper sexy commotion, had I have been there.


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