Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Remembering Independence Day

We all remember our independence differently. Because of my history and English background, I chose to recall it through poetry. The beginning of the American revolution gave us a couple of famous phrases from noted authors that are often quoted but actually came into our conscious at a much later date.

One of the most recognizable is "The British are coming! The British are coming!" This is attributed to the silversmith Paul Revere. He did not actually shout it but rode to notify the waiting American militia that British forces were approaching. Paul Revere was not the only one to ride out with the news, for instance Israel Bissell also rode out, but his name wasn't easy to rhyme with. We remember Paul Revere so successfully because of  Henry Wadsworth Longfellow's poem, "Paul Revere's Ride."

     Listen, my children, and you shall hear
     Of the midnight ride of Paul Revere...

Then we have "the shot heard around the world" in various forms, which is actually from the opening stanza of Ralph Waldo Emerson's "Concord Hymn" (1837):

      Here once the embattled farmers stood,
      And fired the shot heard round the world.

He referred to the battles of Lexington and Concord which began the American Revolution in April 1775 when the British tried to seize the weapons store located there. Why did the world hear it? Royalty in many countries were worried about the outcome of any conflict, rightfully so because the American Revolution inspired other revolutions, most notably the French Revolution.

So congratulations to all those who have since gained independence!

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