May 08, 2017

#05-039: America's Independence Day

men in red coats and tricornered hats march in formation playing drums and bugles
An Independence Day parade

Note: Bang the drums! Ring the bells! Wave the flags! It's the Fourth of July, and all Americans celebrate, albeit each in his or her own way.

Get Ready: Do you celebrate the Fourth of July? What do you do?

The month of July has an ambiance all its own--and I'm not just saying that because I was born near the middle of it!

Generally, all the kids are out of school; the weather has gone hot, but hasn't reached the debilitating stage of the "dog days" in August; and the rain can be pretty much relied on to stay away.

It's a grand coincidence, then, that America's Founding Fathers happened to declare independence near the start of the month, providing for a holiday to kick off summer with aplomb.

July 4th celebrations have certain revered features which cannot be gainsaid. Among these are certain foods--hotdogs and hamburgers, watermelon and ice cream, potato chips and pickles. (In fact, July is both National Hot Dog Month and National Ice Cream Month in the U.S.)

Also common are speeches and recitations, including the Preamble of the Constitution ("We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union..."), that of the "Declaration of Independence" ("We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal..."), and of course, Lincoln's "Gettysburg Address" ("Four score and seven years ago...")

Parades are also a prominent feature of the day. The ones organized in small towns can be especially fun, with hobbyists showing off their cars, pets, and other kinds of "pride and joy"; marching bands, town dignitaries, and the local beauty queen (and sometimes king). The town's products may also be paraded down the main street.

Youth and senior organizations, as well as civic groups, may work for months on "floats," wagons or trucks decorated with scenes or tableaus, often organized around a yearly theme, such as national parks, great moments in history, or categories like famous books or films.

The parade may end in a park or at a fairgrounds, where awards are given in various categories: the best float, band, car, and so on.

The day is generally rounded out with a nighttime display of fireworks, usually accompanied by the "ooos and aaahhhs" of spectators gathered in a meadow or a school stadium, with picnic foods, soft drinks, and beer and wine.


Read more:

Practice: Match the term to its definition below:

  1. address
  2. ambiance
  3. aplomb
  4. debilitating
  5. gainsaid
  6. preamble
  7. pride and joy
  8. revered
  9. self-evident
  10. tableaus

  1. spoken against; denied
  2. highly respected or honored
  3. clear; not needing to be proven
  4. a speech
  5. an introductory statement
  6. something that a person loves
  7. making one weak; draining
  8. atmosphere; mood
  9. poise; dignity
  10. scenes composed of live performers standing still to create a sort of 3D picture

Answers are in the first comment below.

Submitted to the Shenzhen Daily for May 8, 2017

1 comment:

  1. Answers to the Practice: 1. d; 2. h; 3. i; 4. g; 5. a; 6. e; 7. f; 8. b; 9. c; 10. j