June 23 is Typewriter Day

July 7, 2014

All these years I didn’t know.

Some wags designated June 23 as Typewriter Day — the anniversary of the date the typewriter was first patented by Christopher Sholes.  (And you know, I did have a post on that event, last year.)

Drawing for a Typewriter, 06/23/1868 (ARC Identifier: 595503); Patented Case Files, 1836 - 1956; Records of the Patent and Trademark Office; Record Group 241; National Archives.

From the U.S. National Archives Administration: Dated June 23, 1868, this is the printed patent drawing for a “Type-Writer” invented by Christopher L. Sholes, Carlos Glidden, and J. W. Soule. Drawing for a Typewriter, 06/23/1868 Drawing for a Typewriter, 06/23/1868 (ARC Identifier: 595503); Patented Case Files, 1836 – 1956; Records of the Patent and Trademark Office; Record Group 241; National Archives.

Will you remind me in 2015, a week or so in advance, so we can get appropriate celebratory posts up here at Millard Fillmore’s Bathtub?

Links below can get us into position to commemorate the day adequately, next year.

More:

April 30, 1808, first practical typewriter?

Historical dispute!

 


Typewriter of the moment: Noir novelist David Goodis

July 7, 2014

Somerset Maugham at his typewriter.  Image from Jon Winokur's

David Goodis at his typewriter. Image from Jon Winokur’s “Advice to Writers”

What a writer’s desk!  A manual typewriter (Royal? I think so); a fountain pen and a bottle of ink; a solid cigarette lighter and a half-full ashtray.  Judging by the papers on the desk, I’d say he’s working on a screenplay (from the format), and the buildings outside the window look a lot like the Warner Bros. studio lot.

Jon Winokur’s Tweet with noir novelist David Goodis at his typewriter noted Somerset Maugham’s classic statement about writing novels:

There are three rules for writing a novel. Unfortunately, no one knows what they are.

Did Winokur think the photo was of Maugham? (I found the photo also at an article on Maugham at Oz.Typewriter; I left a comment for Robert Messenger.)

Who is David Goodis? He wrote Dark Passage, which is probably famous mostly for the movie version starring a young Humphrey Bogart.

David Loeb Goodis (March 2, 1917 – January 7, 1967) was an American writer of crime fiction, noted for his prolific output of short stories and novels epitomizing the noir fiction genre. A native of Philadelphia, Goodis alternately resided there and in New York City and Hollywood during his professional years. Yet, throughout his life he maintained a deep identification with the city of his birth, Philadelphia. Goodis cultivated the skid row neighborhoods of his home town, using what he observed to craft his hard-boiled sagas of lives gone wrong, realized in dark portrayals of a blighted urban landscape teeming with criminal life and human despair.

“Despite his [university] education, a combination of ethnicity (Jewish) and temperament allowed him to empathize with outsiders: the working poor, the unjustly accused, fugitives, criminals.” [1]

From 1939 to the middle of the 1940s, Goodis wrote perhaps 5 million words in stories for pulp fiction magazines, an output rivaled by few, if anyone.  Unlike his contemporaries, Dashiell Hamett and Raymond Chandler, Goodis’s work escaped reprinting.

During the 1940s, Goodis scripted for radio adventure serials, including Hop Harrigan, House of Mystery, and Superman. Novels he wrote during the early 1940s were rejected by publishers, but in 1942 he spent some time in Hollywood as one of the screenwriters on Universal’s Destination Unknown. His big break came in 1946 when his novel Dark Passage was serialized in The Saturday Evening Post, published by Julian Messner and filmed for Warner Bros. with Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall heading the cast. Delmer Daves directed what is now regarded as a classic film noir, and a first edition of the 1946 hardcover is valued at more than $800.

Arriving in Hollywood, Goodis signed a six-year contract with Warner Brothers, working on story treatments and scripts. In 1947, Goodis wrote the script for The Unfaithful, a remake of Somerset Maugham‘s The Letter. Some of his scripts were never produced, such as Of Missing Persons and an adaptation of Raymond Chandler‘s The Lady in the Lake. Working with director Delmer Daves, he wrote a screen treatment for a film, Up Till Now, which Daves described as “giving people a look at themselves and their [American] heritage”. This film too was never made but Goodis used some of its elements in his 1954 novel, The Blonde on the Street Corner.[3]

Goodis is also credited with writing the screenplay to The Burglar, a 1957 film noir directed by Paul Wendkos that was based on his 1953 novel published by Lion Books. It was the only solely authored screenplay to be produced by him. The film was written and directed by Philadelphians, as well as being shot in Philadelphia. Dan Duryea and Jayne Mansfield were cast in the lead roles, and The Burglar still stands as one of the greatest heist films ever made. It was re-made in 1971 by Henri Verneuil as the French-Italian film Le Casse, starring Omar Sharif.

 


Is this land your land?

July 4, 2014

Published on Jul 3, 2014

Performed by Las Cafeteras in collaboration with The California Endowment, this video embodies our hopes for a brighter future, one which includes #HealthAndJustice4All.

This music video was recorded live in the hills of East LA, and is a remix of the classic folk song, “This Land is Your Land” by Woodie Guthrie.

The California Endowment: http://calendow.org
Las Cafeteras: http://lascafeteras.com
Picture by: http://BKLPhoto.com

“This Land is Your Land” Re-Imagined by Las Cafeteras
Lyrics

This Land is your Land
This Land is my Land
From California to the New York Island,

Todo Para Todos
Nada Pa’ Nosotros
This Land was made for You and Me

La Tierra es tuya
La Tierra es mia
Desde California … hasta Nueva York

Todo Para Todos
Nada Pa’ Nosotros
This Land was made for you and me

This Land (This Land)
This Land (Which Land?)
This land was made for you and me

As I was walking … I saw a sign there
And on that sign there … it said “NO CROSSING”
But on the other side … it said nothing
This Land was made for you and me

This Land (This Land)
This Land (Which Land?)
This Land was made for you and me

This Land (This Land)
This Land (Which Land?)
This Land was made for you and me

Mama Tierra
This Land was made or you and me
Todo Para Todos
This Land was made for you and me


July 4, 1826: Astonishing coincidences on the 50th anniversary of the Declaration

July 4, 2014

You know the story, don’t you? If you don’t, you should commit this one to memory.  It’s not fiction, and if you proposed it for fiction, the editors would reject it as too improbable, or too sappy, a tug on your heartstrings and tear ducts.  It’s true, better than the faux patriot fiction we often get on July 4.

July 4, 2014, is the 238th anniversary of the announcement of the Declaration of Independence.  I hope you’re thinking about how you’ll fly the flag this weekend in honor of the Declaration of Independence.

The resolution proposed by Richard Henry Lee calling for independence of the 13 colonies passed the Continental Congress on July 2, 1776.  The Declaration would be Thomas Jefferson’s crowning achievement, outshining even his presidency and the Louisiana Purchase.   John Adams wrote to his wife, Abigail, that July 2 would forever be marked by patriotic displays.

But the Declaration itself, which gave teeth to the resolution, was adopted two days later on July 4.  That has come to be the day we celebrate.

Detail, John Trumbull's Signing of the Declaration of Independence - Theodor Horydczak photo, Library of Congress

Detail, John Trumbull’s Signing of the Declaration of Independence – The committee of five presents the Declaration of Independence to John Hancock, the President of the Second Continental Congress; from left, the committee is John Adams, Robert Livingston, Roger Sherman, Thomas Jefferson, and Ben Franklin.  Theodor Horydczak photo, Library of Congress

Adams didn’t miss a beat.  Who quibbles about a couple of days when the celebrating is so good?

Adams and Jefferson were two of the five-member committee the Congress had tasked to write a declaration.  Adams and Ben Franklin quickly determined to leave it up to Jefferson, who had a grand flair with words, and who had just written a couple of stirring documents for Virginia.  Roger Sherman and Robert Livingston, the other two members, went along.  And so it was that the Declaration of  Independence is almost completely the work of Thomas Jefferson.

Adams and Jefferson became friends only later, when they both served the nation at war as ambassadors to France, and then for Adams, to England.  A widower, Jefferson was taken in by Abigail Adams who worried about him.  After the war, Jefferson was in England when Adams was to meet King George III in a grand ceremony in which the king would accept the credentials of all the ambassadors of foreign nations to England.  As the king strode down the line, each ambassador or delegation would bow, the king would acknowledge them, the papers would be passed, and the king would move on.  Adams and Jefferson bowed.  King George moved on, ignoring them completely.

In such a case of such a snub, the snubbed foreigners usually made a quick exit.  Adams and Jefferson did not.  They stood at attention as if the king had treated them like all the rest, reversing the snub.  From the beginning, Americans and the United States pushed for more practical, reasonable, and compassionate government and relations.  Standing together, against the snub of the British King one more time, Adams and Jefferson formed a silent bond that held them the rest of their lives.

Back in America in peacetime, and both members of the administration of George Washington, Adams and Jefferson fell out.  Secretary of State Jefferson favored a more limited federal government; Vice President Adams favored a more powerful one.  By the end of Washington’s second term, party politics had been well developed.  Adams defeated Jefferson in the election of 1796.  As was the law then, Jefferson was vice president as the runner-up vote getter in the electoral college; but Adams kept Jefferson out of all government affairs.  Perhaps because he didn’t have Jefferson to help, Adams’s presidency did not go well.  In the rematch election in 1800, one of  the bitterest election fights ever, Jefferson’s party defeated Adams.  The gleeful Democratic-Republican electors all voted one ballot for Jefferson, the presidential candidate, and one ballot for Aaron Burr, the party’s vice presidential candidate.

Alas, that produced a tie vote in the electoral college.  Adams’s party, the Federalists, still held the House of Representatives before the new Congress came in.  A tie vote goes to the House for decision.  They could not bring themselves to vote for Jefferson, and the deadlock continued for 37 ballots.  Finally Jefferson’s former friend but now arch-enemy Alexander Hamilton intervened, explaining that Burr was clearly the greater scoundrel, and the House elected Jefferson.  Adams slunk out of town, avoiding the inauguration.

It wasn’t until after 1809 when Benjamin Rush hoodwinked Jefferson into writing to Adams, and Adams to Jefferson, that the two became friendly again.  For the next 17 years Jefferson and Adams carried on perhaps the greatest series of correspondence in history between two great minds.  Letters went out almost daily, from Monticello, Virginia,  to Braintree, Massachusetts, and from Braintree to Monticello.  They discussed the weather, their families, old times, farming — but especially the republic they had been most instrumental in creating, and how it might be preserved, and made to prosper.  Eventually the letters became harder to read, both because their eyesight was failing, and because their penmanship deteriorated, too.

The ideas, however, flowed like a great river of freedom.  Perhaps this correspondence was the river flowing justice the prophet Amos foretold.

Letter from Thomas Jefferson to John Adams, August 15th, 1820 - Library of Congress image

Letter from Thomas Jefferson to John Adams, August 15th, 1820. From The Thomas Jefferson Papers at the Library of Congress, Thomas Jefferson Papers Series 1. General Correspondence. 1651-1827. Library of Congress image

Both men took ill early in 1826.  This was a landmark year, 50 years since the Declaration of Independence.  In Massachusetts, a grand display of fireworks was planned to cap off a day of feasting and celebration.  Adams hoped he might attend.  In Virginia, a week before, it became clear Jefferson was too ill to venture even as close as Charlottesville for the celebration.  Jefferson sent his regrets to invitations from several celebrations.  Jefferson slept through most of July 3, but awoke about 9:00 p.m., and asked, “This is the fourth?”  It was not.  These are the last significant, recorded words of Jefferson.  He awoke at about 4:00 a.m. on the Fourth of July, 1826, but could not make a rally.  He died at 12:50 in the afternoon.

Adams, too, was too ill to attend the celebrations.  In the late afternoon or early evening of the Fourth, he awoke, and heard the celebration in the town.  Almost as if he had worked just to live to see that particular day, he checked the date.  Realizing he was near the end, happy that he’d seen 50 years after the Declaration, and unaware of the events a few hours earlier that day in Virginia, Adams said, “Thomas Jefferson still survives.”  Adams, too, died on July 4, 1826.

Fly your flag July 4th. Remember John Adams and Thomas Jefferson.  Remember their great work in creating the nation that protects our freedoms today.  Remember their great friendship.  Write a letter to a good friend you’ve not written to lately.

It is Independence Day, a day created and celebrated by great men like John Adams and Thomas Jefferson.  Their spirit survives in us, as we celebrate, and if we remember why we celebrate as friends.

More:


73 156+ things to celebrate about America on the Fourth of July

July 4, 2014

In no particular order, leaving many gaps, on the Fourth of July I celebrate America, and these things about America:

  1. The Apollo Project that put humans on the Moon

    Apollo 11:  Astronaut Buzz Aldrin beside the solar wind experiment. NASA photo

    Apollo 11: Astronaut Buzz Aldrin beside the solar wind experiment. NASA photo

  2. Interstate Highway System
  3. Yellowstone National Park
  4. Edward Abbey
  5. Rainbow Bridge National Monument
  6. The New York Public Library
  7. Jello
  8. Baltimore, home of the Orioles, and playing field for Johnny Unitas
  9. Death Valley, the lowest point in North America, and generally the hottest.
  10. Denali, the highest point in North America, so high it makes its own weather
  11. New Orleans Jazz
  12. Grant Wood’s paintings
  13. Mark Twain
  14. Dred Scott
  15. Thurgood Marshall, and Brown v. Topeka Board of Education
  16. U.S. Highway 101, especially where you can see the Pacific Ocean
  17. Route 66
  18. Hot dogs
  19. Ketchup, or catsup if you prefer
  20. Salsa in a bottle
  21. Miles Davis
  22. Aldo Leopold
  23. French fries, with ketchup, without ketchup, with mayonnaise, with Big H Sauce
  24. Grand Canyon National Park
  25. The Mississippi River
  26. “Ol’ Man River”
  27. Meredith Willson, and “The Music Man!”
  28. Emily Dickinson
  29. Falling Water
  30. Pikes Peak
  31. Bluegrass music
  32. Philly Cheese Steaks
  33. Phyllis Wheatley
  34. Steinway Pianos
  35. Chicken Fried Steak
  36. Amish barn raisings
  37. James Levine
  38. Cheeseburgers
  39. Sojourner Truth
  40. Kansas City Jazz
  41. Onion Rings
  42. Peanut Butter
  43. Leo Fender and the electric guitar
  44. Les Paul and tape loops
  45. Gibson Guitars
  46. Chicago Jazz
  47. Martin Guitars
  48. Mississippi Delta Blues
  49. Chicago Electric Blues
  50. Woody Guthrie
  51. John Philip Sousa
  52. Phillip Glass
  53. Commander Lloyd Bucher and the U.S.S. Pueblo
  54. Frank Lloyd Wright, and Prairie Architecture
  55. Mies van der Rohe
  56. Beale Street in Memphis
  57. Richard Feynman, and his memoirs
  58. Broadway in New York
  59. Bonfires along the Mississippi near Baton Rouge
  60. Indianapolis 500
  61. Daytona Speedway
  62. Fenway Park
  63. Crabcakes from the Chesapeake
  64. Golden Gate; and the Golden Gate Bridge
  65. Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C.
  66. Monticello, Virginia
  67. Cape Hatteras and the lighthouse
  68. Mount Timpanogos in Utah
  69. Great Dismal Swamp, Virginia
  70. Great Houses of Newport, Rhode Island
  71. Bluebirds at the Yorktown Battlefield Monument
  72. Colorado River through Grand Canyon
  73. Bluebell Ice Cream
  74. Ben and Jerry’s Ice Cream
  75. Mt. Rushmore National Monument
  76. Lake of the Woods
  77. Pete Seeger
  78. Walt Whitman
  79. Robert Service’s poems
  80. Girls Scouts of America
  81. Little League Baseball
  82. Frederick Douglass
  83. College World Series in Omaha, Nebraska
  84. Henry David Thoreau
  85. Niagara Falls
  86. Adirondack Park, New York
  87. Sitting on the porch at Mount Vernon, Virginia, watching bald eagles cross the Potomac River
  88. Condors soaring near Big Sur, California
  89. Irving Berlin, and “God Bless America”
  90. Frank Sinatra
  91. Jonathan Winters
  92. Hollywood Movies
  93. Airplane graveyard at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base near Tucson, Arizona
  94. Upper and Lower Antelope Canyon, near Page, Arizona
  95. The Shiprock, New Mexico
  96. Chrysler Building, and the Empire State Building
  97. Blue Ridge Parkway
  98. Susan B. Anthony
  99. Everett Dirksen
  100. Cade’s Cove, Great Smoky Mountains National Park
  101. Red touring “buses” in Glacier National Park
  102. Fog rolling over the Marin Headlands, Marin County, California
  103. The Beach Boys
  104. Skiing and snowboarding, at Solitude, Alta, Hunter Mountain, Park City, Sundance
  105. The Alpine Loops — both of them, Utah and Colorado
  106. The Virginian Hotel and Cafe, Medicine Bow, Wyoming
  107. American Bison, in Yellowstone, at Antelope Island, in the Henry Mountains, in the LBJ Grasslands
  108. Osprey at the Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge, Maryland
  109. Painted Buntings at Colorado Bend State Park, Texas
  110. Dissident tradition that gives us Edward Snowden
  111. King of France Tavern, and Treaty of Paris Restaurant, Annapolis, Maryland
  112. The Triple Crown: Kentucky Derby, Preakness, and Belmont Stakes
  113. Jackie Robinson
  114. Sandy Koufax
  115. Jerry West
  116. Secretariat
  117. Lewis and Clark
  118. Sacagawea
  119. U.S. Women’s Soccer Team
  120. Eugene Debs
  121. AAA Baseball, and the other minor leagues
  122. Texas Barbecue
  123. Louis Armstrong
  124. Ella Fitzgerald
  125. Duke Ellington
  126. Ballet West
  127. Second City
  128. The Groundlings
  129. Harriet Tubman
  130. Owl Burgers at the Owl Cafe in Albuquerque, New Mexico
  131. Seattle Opera
  132. Appalachian Trail
  133. Linda Rondstadt; Linda singing canciones
  134. Dolly Parton, Emmy Lou Harris, and Linda Rondstandt singing tight three-part harmonies
  135. Edward Hopper

    “Morning Sun,” Edward Hopper, 1952

  136. The Marfa Lights
  137. Sloop Clearwater, and the Hudson River
  138. Rafting on the Snake River out of Jackson Hole, Wyoming
  139. Acadia National Park
  140. The Moffatt Tunnel, and the passenger trains that go through it (R.I.P. old Prospector and California Zephyr; long live the new Prospector and Zephyr)
  141. Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel
  142. Brooklyn Bridge
  143. Hires Drive-in and the Big H Burger, 4th South in Salt Lake City
  144. Old North Church, Boston
  145. Any country road in Vermont or New Hampshire, when the autumn leaves are turning
  146. Virgin River Narrows, Zion Canyon National Park
  147. Platte River when the big birds are migrating
  148. The oldest European building in America, the church at Fulton, Missouri
  149. Harley-Davidson plant in Milwaukee, Wisconsin — across the street from the Miller Brewery
  150. Wisconsin bratwursts
  151. Harry Houdini
  152. Harriett Beecher Stowe
  153. Grits served four ways at a diner in Charleston, South Carolina
  154. Salmon smoked by Native Americans in Puget Sound
  155. Varsity Drive In, in Atlanta
  156. Raspberry milkshakes at Bear Lake, Utah
  157. Maple syrup from Vermont
  158. Sam Weller’s Zion Book Store, Salt Lake City
  159. Old Angler’s Inn, on the C&O Canal
  160. Central Park, New York City
  161. Seabiscuit
  162. Babe Ruth
  163. Lou Gehrig
  164. Renée Fleming
  165. Willie Nelson
  166. Thomas Jefferson and John Adams, and their friendship
  167. Boeing 707, and the aircraft plants that make them
  168. Howard Zinn
  169. Solid state electronics, and the Chip that Jack Kilby Built
  170. Tennessee Valley Authority
  171. Noam Chomsky
  172. A. Phillip Randolph
  173. Ford, Chrysler and General Motors
  174. Mother Jones (Mary Harris Jones)
  175. Gold dome of the Colorado Capitol; the copper domes of the Arizona and Utah Capitols
  176. Things named after John Muir. many in places you would not expect, as well as quite a number of elementary schools
  177. Boy Scouts of America
  178. The United States Marine Corps
  179. Side Street Cafe, Honolulu
  180. Buzz Aldrin
  181. John Glenn
  182. Greensborough Four
  183. Freedom Riders
  184. Freedom Summer
  185. GI Bill
  186. Dennis Banks
  187. Gloria Steinem
  188. Joni Mitchell, Neil Young, Farley Mowat and all the other Canadians who come south of the border to make us think
  189. Bob Marshall Wilderness Area
  190. Twin Peaks Wilderness Area
  191. Bonneville Salt Flats
  192. Damon Runyon, and “Guys and Dolls”
  193. Utah Phillips
  194. Et cetera
  195. Et cetera

Okay, Dear Reader: What have I left off the list?

(Maybe we should hold on to this list for Thanksgiving. We have a lot to be grateful for, and a lot of people to give thanks to.)


Fly your flag today! July 4, 2014, 238th anniversary of the public reading of the Declaration of Independence

July 4, 2014

It’s a day of tradition — oddly enough, since we are in reality a very new nation, and Lee’s resolution to declare independence from Britain came on July 2.

A soak in Millard Fillmore’s Bathtub is nothing if not a steeping in tradition.  Fly your flag today, to celebrate the independence of the American colonies of Britain.

Fourth of July: NPR has already read the Declaration of Independence (or will soon, if you’re up early), PBS is ready to broadcast the Capitol Fourth concert  (maybe a rebroadcast is available, if you’re off at your own town’s fireworks — check your local listings), your town has a parade somewhere this weekend, or a neighboring community does, and fireworks are everywhere.

At the White House, traditionally, new citizens are sworn in — often people who joined our armed forces and fought for our nation, before even getting the privileges of citizenship.  Fireworks on the Capital Mall will be grand, with the White House hosting a few thousand military people and their families from some of the best views.  Traditionally, five photographers, chosen by lottery, get to shoot photos of the fireworks from the windows of the Washington Monument; will that occur, with the Monument shut down from public view for repair from the earthquake?

There will be great fireworks also in Baltimore Harbor over Fort McHenry, the fort whose siege inspired Francis Scott Key to write the “Star-spangled Banner” from his boat in the harbor, in 1814. Firworks will frighten the bluebirds nesting at Yorktown National Battlefield.  I suspect there will be a grand display at Gettysburg, on the 150th anniversary of the end of that battle. July 4, 1863, also marked the end of the Siege of Vicksburg; tradition holds that Vicksburg did not celebrate the 4th of July for 83 years after that. I’ll wager there will be fireworks there tonight.  In Provo, Utah, the city poobahs will have done all they can to try to live up to their self-proclaimed reputation as having the biggest Independence Day celebration in the nation.  The celebration in Prescott, Arizona, is muted by the tragic deaths of 19 Hot Shot firefighters last week; will drought halt the fireworks, too?  There will be fireworks around the Golden Gate Bridge, in Anchorage, Alaska, reflecting on the waters of Pearl Harbor, and probably in Guam, American Samoa, and the Northern Marianas Islands.

Fireworks on the Fourth is a long tradition – a tradition that kept John Adams and Thomas Jefferson alive, until they both died on the 50th anniversary of the Declaration of Independence, in 1826, the sounds of the fireworks letting Adams know the celebration had begun (Adams erroneously celebrated that Jefferson, the Declaration’s author, still lived, unable to know Jefferson had passed just hours earlier).

Remember to put your flag up today.

Astronaut Eugene Cernan and the U.S. Flag -- Apollo 17 on the Moon (NASA photo)

Last flag on the Moon: Astronaut Eugene Cernan and the U.S. Flag — Apollo 17 on the Moon (NASA photo)

If you’re not on the Moon, here are some tips on flag etiquette, how to appropriately fly our national standard.

Also:

Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter photo of the Apollo 17 landing site.

Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter photo of the Apollo 17 landing site. NASA caption: Apollo 17 Lunar Module Challenger descent stage comes into focus from the new lower 50 km mapping orbit, image width 102 meters. Credit: NASA/GSFC/Arizona State University

This is mostly an encore post, but I so love that photo of the flag with the Earth in the distance.

Happy birthday, Kathryn!

Fireworks in Duncanville, Texas, for July 4

Fireworks in Duncanville, Texas, for July 4 — Kathryn Knowles’s birthday. We’re always happy the town chimes in with the celebratory spirit.

Tip of the old scrub brush to Thomas Jefferson, Richard Henry Lee, John Adams, Benjamin Franklin, Roger Sherman, Robert Livingston, and the cast of thousands of patriots including George Washington.


Reminder: How to fly the flag on July 4 in 2014

July 4, 2014

Every kid should learn this stuff by third grade, but it’s clear from what we see that they don’t.

Flag flying in front of U.S. Capitol (East side) LOC photo

Flag flying at the eastern front of the U.S. Capitol. Library of Congress photo

So here’s a quick review of dos and don’ts for display and behavior toward the U.S. flag on this most flag-worthy of days, the 4th of July. With a few comments.

1. Fly your flag, from sunup to sundown. If you’re lucky enough to have a flagpole, run the flag up quickly. Retire it slowly at sunset. Then go see fireworks.

2. Display flags appropriately, if not flown from a staff. If suspended from a building or a wall, remember the blue field of stars should always be on the flag’s right — the “northwest corner” or left as you look at it. Do not display a flag flat, parallel to the ground.

3. Salute the flag as it opens the 4th of July parade. In a better world, there would be just one U.S. flag at the opening of the parade, and the entire crowd would rise as it passes them in a great patriotic, emotional wave — civilians with their hands over their hearts, hats off; people in uniform saluting appropriately with hats on. It’s likely that your local parade will not be so crisp. Other entries in the parade will have flags, and many will be displayed inappropriately. A true patriot might rise and salute each one — but that would look silly, perhaps even sillier than those sunshine patriots who display the flag inappropriately. Send them a nice letter this year, correcting their behavior. But don’t be obnoxious about it.

4. Do not display the flag from a car antenna, attached to a window of a car, or attached in the back of a truck. That’s against the Flag Code, which says a flag can only be displayed attached to the right front fender of a car, usually with a special attachment. This means that a lot of the National Guard entries in local parades will be wrongly done, according to the flag code. They defend the flag, and we should not make pests of ourselves about it. Write them a letter commending their patriotism. Enclose the Flag Code, and ask them to stick to it next time. Innocent children are watching.

5. Do not dishonor the flag by abusing it or throwing it on the ground. It’s become popular for a local merchant to buy a lot of little plastic flags and pass them out to parade goers. If there is an advertisement on the flag, that is another violation of the Flag Code. The flag should not be used for commercial purposes. I have, several times, found piles of these flags on the ground, dumped by tired people who were passing them out, or dumped by parade goers who didn’t want to carry the things home. It doesn’t matter if it’s printed on cheap plastic, and made in China — it is our nation’s flag anyway. Honor it. If it is worn, dispose of it soberly, solemnly, and properly.

That’s probably enough for today. When the Flag Desecration Amendment passes — if it ever does — those parade float makers, National Guard soldiers, and merchants, can all be jailed, perhaps. Or punished in other ways.  And wouldn’t that be silly and unproductive?

Until that time, our best hope is to review the rules, obey them, and set examples for others.

Have a wonderful 4th of July! Fly the flag. Read the Declaration of Independence out loud. Love your family, hug them, and feed them well. That’s part of the Pursuit of Happiness that this day honors. It is your right, your unalienable right. Use it wisely, often and well.

Happy birthday, Kathryn!

More, and Additional Resources:


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