Thursday, July 06, 2006

Much As Crunkmas Is In January, Not April

Out of respect for the CSB tradition of letting the 10 Greatest Americans hold down the fort over the Fourth of July, I held this one back until now.

July 4 is not “America’s birthday.”

I know, the date is right there at the top, in big letters, “In Congress, July 4, 1776.” But does July 4 really deserve as much resonance as we give it? For example, was July 4, 1776 really a more important date in American history than April 19, 1775, when the battles of Lexington and Concord were fought? Those, after all, were the “shot heard ‘round the world”…

But that’s irrelevant, because America’s birthday should be September 17, to commemorate the ratification of the Constitution on September 17, 1787.

There are several reasons why, but they all boil down to one thing: The Constitution is far more important to both American history and the American experience than the Declaration of Independence. The Declaration, great as it is, only put 13 wayward British colonies on the path to freedom. The Constitution, on the other hand, marks the nation having arrived as something recognizable, to those of us living today, as the United States.

September 17 is also almost universally a better day than July 4, even leaving aside the historical significance. For one thing, September 17 is a much much much more pleasant time of year to go to an outdoor fireworks display on America’s front yard than July 4. For another, it means that we can extend summer another 2 weeks. Labor Day currently marks the unofficial “end of summer,” but wouldn’t it be immeasurably better to have 2 more weeks of September (the best weather month of the year everywhere I’ve ever lived) count as summer? What better way to close out another fun summer than with a massive birthday celebration for the ol’ U.S.A.?

March 4 is another possibility for America’s birthday, since that was the date the Constitution went into effect, but I think that September 17 is better.

Look at it this way. If America were a person, April 19 would be the day its parents first got together, July 4 would be the day it was conceived, September 17 would be the day it was born, and March 4 would be, I dunno, the day it was baptized? Bar mitzvahed? Something like that?

If we join together we can start a movement to change the observance of America’s birthday to September 17. All we need is a catchy slogan…I’ve got it!

“America’s life did not begin at conception.”

Hmm…that seems unnecessarily politically charged, I think.


CrimeNotes said...

I'll propose two more dates, smart guy: September 25 (when, in 1789, Congress approved the Bill of Rights) or December 15 (when, in 1791, the Bill of Rights was ratified). The articles of the Constitution are great, but when most people think of the document, I bet they think about the First Amendment.

I think you're too dismissive of the Declaration of Independence, but point taken.

colintj said...

I agree with CN. The Declaration is the embodiment of the spirit which embues the laws of the Constitution with the most just meaning.

Crunk Raconteur said...

The Bill of Rights suggestion is a good one as well. Nor would I be particularly upset about regular celebrations of the 4th of July (hey, any reason to barbeque is a good one), but it just irritates me that the 4th of July is this massive festival of Americanness while the Constitution (and the Bill of Rights) gets no recognition at all.

Also, as much as I love Jefferson (and I do), I think James Madison totally gets shafted on recognition (and not just because his wife mass produced a line of delicious-yet-affordable snack cakes).

CrimeNotes said...

I think Madison gets shafted, but the person I really thinks gets shafted is Alexander Hamilton. If it hadn't been for Hamilton, and if Jefferson's half-cocked ideas hadn't been kept in check, the entire country would resemble Alabama.

Crunk Raconteur said...

Oh, you mean, America would resembel the "real America" of Republican dreams...

CrimeNotes said...

I think it would be better than the Republican dreams, since Jefferson liked free speech and the press.

On the other hand, he also liked farming, and hated banks, roads, and public works. If he'd had his druthers, we'd all be farmers with no way to get anywhere and plenty of newspapers.