Ladies and Gentlemen, step right up! Prepare yourselves for a truly fearsome sight. In this
Independence Day in Song
You cannot actually find everything on the Internet. I know this because for the last several days, I’ve been searching for a children’s song that we had on an LP when I was 5 or 6. Part of an album celebrating American history, the song describes the process of the thirteen colonies voting to approve the Declaration of Independence. Since I can’t find it anywhere, I’ll take a stab at it from memory:
Rhode Island, are you for independence? Are you for the pursuit of happiness? For Life and Liberty and Freedom?
Rhode Island votes yes.
And you from Massachusetts, how ’bout you, sir?
We’re proud to announce that we do, sir!….
And so on, running through the rest of the colonies and concluding with ‘and that’s how our country had its birthday, the day that everybody celebrates,when the thirteen original colonies became the United States!’
Rhode Island, as the first state to declare independence from Great Britain, is-rightfully-featured first. Later on, Virginia makes sure to mention its bona fides: ‘Virginia, home of George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Patrick Henry, James Madison, and James Monroe…’ By comparison, Massachusetts gets rather short shrift. Though the lyrics obviously gloss over quite a bit, they still do an admirable job of explaining a complex process in terms even a child could comprehend. And it was catchy enough to stick in my brain all these years. If someone out there has a copy of this, please let me know.
For me, music is an integral part of Independence Day, whether a parade, a concert, or whatever’s blasting at the family BBQ. Back home, in the (very) small town where I grew up, the hometown parade was followed by a ‘program’ inside the church. For many years, a regular number was ‘The Battle Hymn of the Republic’, played on the organ, sung by the congregation, and featuring our minister on trumpet. When he moved on to another posting, the synod asked the church leaders what we were looking for in a new pastor. One elderly deacon answered, ‘Well, it would be great if he could play trumpet.’
Alas, they were fresh out of trumpet playing pastors, so we learned to make do with high school kids. And though I won’t be back in North Dakota for the 4th this year, I’ve made some lovely alternative plans. The store will be closed so that Cassie and I can both enjoy the holiday. Wednesday evening will find me sprawled on a blanket in Providence’s India Point Park, listening to the RI Philharmonic, feasting on food truck fare, and watching the fireworks. I *may* even have some wine. It will be a lovely night.
We wish you all a happy, healthy, fun, and delicious holiday. Maybe it will even be musical.