Thursday, July 4, 2019

Happy July 4th, 2019 - Independance Day!

I could pontificate about the bad old days, April 19, 1775 – September 3, 1783 (8 years, 4 months and 15 days), with the official ratification effective on May 12, 1784 (9 years and 23 days), but I won't.  The Revolutionary War was a tough time all over, mainly because the British were not the benevolent monarchy they thought they were, and most of their subjects were pissed off at them - enough to go after some relief.

You know how bad things have to get before people will organize to do anything, let alone take up arms and go to war?  Pretty bad, for sure.

These days we prefer to celebrate and proclaim our independence from tyrannical foreign powers.  Like Canada, for instance.

Keep reading for a few insights and inflammatory comments, not all of which are original.

One thing I always like about the Fourth of July was fireworks.  Hey, who doesn't, right?  I still love fireworks.  One particular firecracker that my father and grandfather spoke of was the cannon cracker.  They wouldn't say how big it was, exactly, or where I might get one or two, but the cannon cracker was the undisputed number one firecracker in every boys' ammo dump.

This is a photo (used without permission) of the 'Cannon Cracker' that my father always talked about, and that he set off when he was a boy.  The American Cannon Cracker was patented on July 7, 1885 by the Masten & Wells Fireworks Co of Boston, Mass.  The cracker or salute has wooden end plugs and is 9½ inches long by 1¾ inches in diameter.  Sadly, salutes over 5 inches long or over ¾ inches in diameter were banned from US trade in 1912.

The enormous size of this monster made it the short-lived prize possession of every boy in the United States; many dreamed of setting if off in church.  My father often used the metaphor 'like a cannon cracker in church' (coupled with a few expletives) to describe the accidental slamming of a door during a tranquil summer morning.  I always wanted to know about the canon crackers, but he'd never describe them except to say they were big.  I think he didn't want me to get any ideas I didn't already have.

Cannon Cracker
Anyway, here it is.  It used black powder for the explosive, and back when canon crackers were legal and fun, I'm certain that some little miscreant somewhere set one off in the rear of the sanctuary right in the middle of a particularly tedious sermon.

Not that I, personally, would ever find any amusement or pleasant diversion in such a nefarious activity... I wonder how young Pastor Parsnip would deal with that sort of interruption.

I think it might have been during a gun show, but a few friends and I fell to discussing the Revolutionary War, and wars in general, and how badly the French were behaving in the sandbox.  I, of course, had to refer to the French as Froggies, which set off a fellow with French ancestry who happened to be nearby.

Froggy commented that without France, there would be no United States.  He was referring to the French support of the future U.S. of A. during the Revolutionary War, which was significant but not altruistic - the French hated the British.  Spain got into the act too, but only to aid the French - not to help the future U.S.  My guess is that Spain was waiting to see what shook out at the end of the war, and if there was anything they could scoop up for themselves.  Smart move, if you were Spain.  Anyway...

I replied that while that was certainly true, and while France was the first nation to recognize the United States, whatever debt we might have incurred was paid back with interest, twice over; once during WWI and again during WWII.  Without the U.S., the entire European continent would be saluting a different flag.  He gave me a dirty look and went quiet.  Well, fuck him if he can't take a joke.

Then I found this missive someplace on the Internet.  I won't swear to the accuracy, but if it isn't the gospel truth it should be.  Here you go:

JFK'S Secretary of State, Dean Rusk, was in France in the early 60's when DeGaulle decided to pull out of NATO.  DeGaulle said he wanted all US military out of France as soon as possible.  Rusk responded, "Does that include those who are buried here?"

DeGaulle did not respond.  You could have heard a pin drop.

When in England, at a fairly large conference, Colin Powell was asked by the Archbishop of Canterbury if our plans for Iraq were just an example of 'empire building' by George Bush.  He answered by saying, "Over the years, the United States has sent many of Its fine young men and women into great peril to fight for freedom beyond our borders.  The only amount of land we have ever asked for in return is enough to bury those that did not return."

You could have heard a pin drop.

There was a conference in France where a number of international engineers were taking part, including French and American.  During a break, one of the French engineers came back into the room saying, "Have you heard the latest dumb stunt Bush has done? He has sent an aircraft carrier to Indonesia to help the tsunami victims. What does he intend to do, bomb them?"

A Boeing engineer stood up and replied quietly: "Our carriers have three hospitals on board that can treat several hundred people; they are nuclear powered and can supply emergency electrical power to
shore facilities; they have three cafeterias with the capacity to feed 3,000 people three meals a day, they can produce several thousand gallons of fresh water from sea water each day, and they carry half a dozen helicopters for use in transporting victims and injured to and from their flight deck. We have eleven such ships. How many does France have?"

You could have heard a pin drop.

A U.S. Navy admiral was attending a naval conference that included admirals from the U.S., English, Canadian, Australian and French navies at a cocktail reception.  He found himself standing with a large group of officers that included personnel from most of those countries.  Everyone was chatting away in English as they sipped their drinks when a French admiral suddenly complained that, whereas Europeans learn many languages, Americans learn only English.  He then asked, "Why is it that we always have to speak English in these conferences rather than speaking French?"

Without hesitating, the American admiral replied, "Maybe it's because the Brit's, Canadians, Aussie's and Americans arranged it so you wouldn't have to speak German."

You could have heard a pin drop.

Robert Whiting, an elderly gentleman of 83, arrived in Paris by plane.  At French customs, he took a few minutes to locate his passport in his carry on. "You have been to France before, monsieur?" the customs officer asked sarcastically.  Mr. Whiting admitted that he had been to France previously. "Then you should know enough to have your passport ready."

"The last time I was here, I didn't have to show it," Mr. Whiting replied.

"Impossible. Americans always have to show their passports on arrival in France!"

The elderly Mr. Whiting gave the Frenchman a long hard look.  Then he quietly explained, ''Well, when I came ashore at Omaha Beach on D-Day in 1944 to help liberate this country, I couldn't find a single Frenchmen to show a passport to."

You could have heard a pin drop.

Me, I'm proud to be a citizen of the United States of America!


CWMartin said...

That. Was. Beautiful.

Bob G. said...

Mad Jack:
This is perhaps one of the BEST historical accounts of what WE have done to make sure that LIBERTY and FREEDOM could ring in other countries, after we made sure it WOULD ring in our own.
I can say that Lafayette night not recognize his country of birth (today), but would have appreciated what AMERICA had done to help it in the past, nonetheless.
Those "pin drop" moments were brilliant.
I have no idea how you managed to glean all those stories, but every one made me smile a little bit more.
I am extremely proud to be a real American (always was and always will be).

God bless you, and may God Bless America.

Glen Filthie said...

That is just the fwench being fwench. Up here in Canada, Queerbec is infested with them and they are nothing but trouble. If I had my way, we'd build a wall around that poxy province so that nothing could get in or out - and then fill it up with water. Those people are arrogant, corrupt and ungrateful and no bones about it.

Mad Jack said...

CW: Thank you. I consider that high praise, coming from a discerning man like you.

Bob G: Thank you for your kind words. I don't think Lafayette would recognize France either. France hated England (as did Spain), and their involvement in the Revolutionary War was a bit opportunistic. Hey, we aren't pounding the Lobsterbacks here, we're just helping the Colonists. Right? ;) From what I've read about Lafayette, he was fairly patriotic about the Colonists, and might have been looking down the road a piece.

Glen: I've never been to Quebec, but I've heard a few stories. Not all are complementary. I hear that it's worse than pretty much anything we've got in the U.S., but like I say, I've never been. Thanks for reading.