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COLUMN: Random Fourths

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“When in doubt, don’t.”

—Benjamin Franklin

With Independence Day upon us, I thought I would pontificate on our nation’s birthday.

* It happens every year. Some smug blatherskite always pumps his chest out and tells the oft repeated anecdote about how Independence Day should be July 2nd, not July 4th. They will use faux-intellectualism to relay how the Second Continental Congress had voted to separate from Great Britain on the 2nd; and that nothing substantial occurred on the 4th.

Half right.

Yes, the Lee Resolution was indeed agreed upon on the 2nd. And John Adams wrote that the 2nd would be a day that was celebrated forever. But John Adams wrote many things. The 4th of July is Independence Day because the actual declaration that separated us from the most powerful nation on Earth—and was evidence to an act of treason—was agreed upon on the 4th.

Next time someone tries to sound smarter than they are, do your American duty and give them a verbal smackdown.

* Did you know that when the 13 colonies voted for independence from Mother England that the vote was not 13-0? New York abstained. They eventually did change their vote to yes, but that was tepid at best. New York City was a loyalist town during most of the American Revolution. And even after the Treaty of Paris ended the war, British troops were still welcome in New York City for months afterward.

The New York state legislature barely approved the U.S. Constitution. And most of the politicians from New York in the early years of the Republic were crooked, treasonist, or, at the very least, inept.

When you hear about great American patriots during 4th of July week, do not ever allow anyone to put New York City or the state itself on that list.

* Many years ago I did a commentary on KVNU where I ripped the Star-Spangled Banner as an awful song. It still is.

The national anthem for the greatest nation in history has outdated wording from an insignificant battle in a war we did not win. It has a terrible melody, and is often sung badly. And given the amplitude of patriotic songs that are available to us, singing that dog whistle of a song before most events makes me run to the bathroom before the first unnecessary crescendo.

You want good songs to sing on holidays and before sporting events? Here is my list:

God Bless America. Great song, Easy to sing. Don’t like God in the title of the song? Get over it! I do not believe in any gods and yet I am all in for this classic standard.

America by Neil Diamond. The melody pumps me up and the immigrants coming to the New World theme of the lyrics is as American as you can get.

Going The Distance from the Rocky soundtrack. In case you are not hearing the song in your head, it is played during the fight between Rocky and Apollo Creed. It may only be an instrumental, but hearing that song should make any American ready to open a can of whupass on anyone who messes with the red, white and blue.

* I am currently reading “The Americanization of Benjamin Franklin” by Gordon Wood. It tries to explain how Dr. Franklin went from an ardent monarchist who often talked about living the rest of his days in London to being in the pantheon of great Americans.

This is the third biography of Franklin I have read. Being from Philadelphia—a city on which Franklin’s presence is indelibly intertwined—I always had a fascination with this great man. The problem is that Franklin does not read that well. In various books, he can come off as vain and vindictive towards his contemporaries.

Even in David McCullough’s legendary biography of John Adams, Franklin comes off as vain and short-tempered, a man who would make a colleague look bad in order to keep himself in good standing with those he meant to impress.

I feel the same way about biographies of George Washington. The greatest of Americans tend to come off cold when read. Maybe greatness was not meant to be understood.

* With the U.S. loss to Belgium in the World Cup on Tuesday, most Americans will drop off the soccer radar. I grow tired of the stories every four years that America is “falling in love” with soccer. Soccer is played at junior levels all over the country. NBC paid a boatload of money last year to televise every single match from the English Premiere League. MLS has a solid following. Soccer is exactly where it has been for a long time—the 5th biggest team sport in America.

* Outside of the American Revolution, July 4th is the anniversary of the fall of Vicksburg during the U.S. Civil War. In 1863, Union General Ulysses Grant bombarded Vicksburg, which sat on a 180 degree bend in the Mississippi, with a daily barrage that lasted for nearly two months. By taking Vicksburg, the Confederacy was cut in two, they lost the major waterway in the West theater for the remainder of the war and it showed the blueprint that Grant would use to eventually win the war; that being, relentless and unyielding assaults on the South’s lines.

Coupled with the loss of Gettysburg on the previous day, the South lost the Civil War when they left Vicksburg. Only superior generals and tactical commanders kept them in the war for another two years.

* And finally, in an act that shows the profound difference between America and Russia, Vladimir Putin signed into law this week a bill that bans vulgarity in all forms of media. Books, movies, events, television…everything! If it has a vulgarity, it cannot be shown in Russia.

I can comment on censorship in America right now. Or, I can mention how Utah resembles Russia in that many people here would ban things they simply do not like. But this is my Independence Day column…and I will not badmouth my country in this tome. So allow me to end this as the ugly American I proudly claim to be.

Banning free speech? *Bleep* you, Putin!