Happy Independence Day

Good-night – Carl Sandburg (1920)

MANY ways to spell good night.

Fireworks at a pier on the Fourth of July spell it with red wheels and yellow spokes.

They fizz in the air, touch the water and quit.
Rockets make a trajectory of gold-and-blue and then go out.

Railroad trains at night spell with a smokestack mushrooming a white pillar.

Steamboats turn a curve in the Mississippi crying in a baritone that crosses lowland cottonfields to a razorback hill.
It is easy to spell good night.

Many ways to spell good night.

A Toast to the First and the Fourth of July
for David Van Every (1757-1820)
©July 2009 – John Newmark

For two years my fourth great fought
for the creation of our nation
then in seventeen seventy seven
he deemed his disloyalty a disservice
and joined the other side.
Finally, he and his family fled to Canada.

His motivations are unrecorded.
Beyond his appearance on muster rolls,
a few brief mentions elsewhere,
we have nothing. No inkling
of the wherefores behind his decision
either in seventy five, or seventy seven.

In July’s opening barrage
of national celebrations
I honor both of his decisions –
whatever the reasons, and his willingness
to fight for what he believed
even when those beliefs changed.

0 thoughts on “Happy Independence Day

  1. DL Emerick

    An ancestral figure of mine, quite mythical,
    landed on America’s shores in the early 1770s.

    He soon joined the rabble revolutionists,
    made his way up to Boston, so it is said,
    fell in love with a woman,
    died fighting at Bunker Hill,
    all without issue, you must understand.

    His brothers, mostly, were chameleons,
    changing color with the background situation,
    and thus were also nothing much than sycophants,
    or merchants, diplomatic, always fashionable,
    always acceptable, even becoming Jews.

    The fourth Emerick in America hated Jews.
    He hated the fact that the Emericks of Germany,
    and those of America, became Jews —
    but he, reputedly, according to legend,
    became rich, fabulously rich.

    And, hundreds of years later,
    Emericks sought his fabled fortune,
    in law suits against his trustees, the Astors.

    The Jewish Emericks of Germany got a settlement,
    but the American Emericks got nothing —
    even as many of them, chameleons ever,
    had reverted to Christianity and anti-semitism, too.

    As for the last of the Astors,
    he sank on the Titanic —
    having settled with Emerick Jews of Germany —
    and planning to settle with those of America upon his return.

    It never happened.

    The latest of the Astors, per the NY Times, died,
    just last year — her son is impeached, widely,
    for fraud upon her estate —
    and the claim of Emerick to that fortune is never to be heard.

    History teaches much, here.
    I presume not to speak for it.

    But, quite frankly, I favor strong and heavy estate taxes,
    to take from all the pretentious rich unjust wealth —
    the only good name from ancestry is a common name,
    to show that children care nothing for undeserved advantages.

    So, too, to the Bushes and Rockefellers,
    to all those who think themselves better than I am,
    by accident of birth, to a wealthier family.

    Such false pride we find everywhere —
    even and especially in the smallest of towns.

    Who is somebody?

    What matters, always and only, is merit —
    of what the person himself is.

    Anything else as an idea is false.