Yes, I Am Jealous Of The Fourth Of July

Me, aged about 10 months (Lexington, KY)

Today is the Fourth of July, American Independence Day.

I’m not American. The photo above was taken when we spent a year of my earliest life living in Kentucky. I spoke my first words with an American accent.

Australians know all about Independence Day. It figures prominently in Hollywood and every US television series from Leave It To Beaver to The Wonder Years to Modern Family has had at least one Fourth of July themed episode (or so it seems).

In some ways, I envy the USA and the passion they hold for their national day. Along with their Northern cousins, they celebrate a day they became a nation in their own right, whether through war and bloodshed or, as my Canadian blogging friend Joanne put it, by asking “our British Motherland for permission“.

I also envy them their flags, unique to their countries and flown so proudly as a sign of their independence and singular nationhood.

In my country, we celebrate our national day – Australia Day – on the anniversary of the arrival of the First Fleet in Sydney Cove in 1788. We were still a British colony, a largely penal one at that and our indigenous brothers and sisters rightly refer to our national day as “Invasion Day”. It doesn’t make me proud; it makes me cringe.

Even our flag is under contention, a reminder of our British colonial past displayed prominently in the corner. I think it is a symbol of our never quite cutting the apron strings. There is a significant portion of our society that clings to our British roots despite the ever-increasing multicultural influence on our everyday streets.

If ever there were any doubts that we have never really left the nursery, confirmation came earlier this year when one of the first acts of our new Prime Minister was to re-instate knighthoods, previously abolished in 1983. With manufacturing in decline, spiralling youth unemployment, appalling conditions for our indigenous peoples and a widening gap between rich and poor in our country, this was one of his first priorities.

Every January 26th, there are rumblings about finding a more appropriate day. Federation – our ‘independence’ day – came on January 1st 1901. Australians love a public holiday, particularly one that gives them a long weekend. Celebrating the national day on a day that is already a public holiday and thus depriving them of an additional day off will not be tolerated. Some have suggested making ANZAC Day our national day but celebrating ourselves as a nation on the anniversary of one of the biggest military stuff-ups seems absurd. And how do we include our new Australians who hail from Turkey on that day?

On 13th February 2008, our then Prime Minister, Kevin Rudd, offered an official government apology to indigenous Australians and particularly to the Stolen Generations for the treatment they had received from our forebears. Many have suggested this as a possible new national day. It has merit and may highlight each year the ongoing plight of the aboriginal people (we are yet to acknowledge their first ownership of the land in our constitution and their life expectancy is well below their non-indigenous counterparts). However, it does not acknowledge the many cultures that have come to make up our peaceful melting pot of a country. From the Chinese who came to dig the goldfields in the 1850s to the latest migrants from Africa and the Middle East, ours is a country built on difference. We need to find a day that celebrates that and a flag that truly represents who we are.

I’m not confident I’ll see it in my own lifetime but I think my children’s generation, brought up in an increasingly global society, may be the one to recognise the contribution of all the peoples of the Earth who have come to form our home and to celebrate that in unity and peace.

Every country has its problems. The United States has a growing underclass of working poor and their lack of universal healthcare leaves us shaking our heads. Canada’s current Prime Minister is best buddies with our own so they have my sympathies. But both countries have a day that is theirs and theirs alone when they can feel proud to be an independent nation.

I wish I could say the same for my own country.

(I’d like to thank bikerchick57 for inspiring this post.)

 

 

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77 thoughts on “Yes, I Am Jealous Of The Fourth Of July

  1. I learned something new today. I naively assumed that every country had a day like our July 1 or the US’ July 4.

    I thank you for your sympathies, too. I’m not crazy about our PM.

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  2. If it makes you feel any better, our doorknob of a PM took us a giant leap backwards in independence and reinstated the “Royal” in the names of our military. As you said, with all the other pressing issues facing us as a nation, and this is the kind of distraction they prioritize?!!!

    I visited Australia many years ago and without question, it was one of the highlights of my many travels. I was fortunate to travel a good chunk of your country and I fell in love with it and its people. I love your flag … maybe I just have a thing for stars 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

    • Oh dear. But it’s clearly why yours and ours get along so well…

      I don’t have a problem with the stars. The Southern Cross is highly significant in Australia. It’s the thing in the top left corner I’m not so pleased about.

      And thanks for the lovely comments about our country. It is a great place to live (mostly). I just wish we could celebrate that appropriately.

      Liked by 2 people

  3. I’m glad I inspired because I learned a few things about your country today. Your PM sounds like many a politician in our country, so that is not so different. We probably need to have a “throw out the rotten politician” day, right? Anyhow, no matter what, I am born and bred American and will always be proud of my country. I’m sure you feel the same about Australia – proud of its heritage and people. I’ll toast the US tonight under the fireworks and say a little prayer that you will one day have your holiday and a flag to go with it. 🙂

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    • I could talk about the state of politics in this country, the influence of the media, the cult of personality and the effect of 30 second sound bite policies-on-the-run but that’s a whole other post. Suffice to say, Australians are an open-hearted, generous, tolerant people and I am proud of us and our beautiful land. We just don’t have the government we deserve (and haven’t for some years).

      Thanks so much for the inspiration and the reblog. I think that earns you two extra Oreos. 🙂

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  4. Reblogged this on Mary J Melange and commented:
    Here’s an Australian history lesson related to the Fourth of July. I can assuredly say that we all love our own heritage and the people of our country, despite the actions of our politicans and others who may push aside the concept of independence.

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  5. Goodonyer ! – spot on re Australia Day. Also re Anzac and Federation Days. I’d go along with Kevin07’s apology as a marker – why not ? Whatever, it’s going to have to wait till we’ve got rid of these total (_¤_)s currently pretending to be managing things …

    Liked by 1 person

  6. I completely agree in principle, but I don’t think the date we celebrate matters as much as how we do it. At the moment, Australia Day is a booze-and-brawl fest – hardly a mark of national pride..
    As you said, we’re an open-hearted, generous, tolerant people. We’re also tough and immensely resourceful, and that, I think, goes back to our beginnings. Indigenous Australians have to be some of the most resourceful people in the world, to live in harmony with an often unforgiving land. The first European settlers were equally resourceful in their own way – the riff raff discards of another nation dumped in a totally foreign environment without shelter, food, adequate tools or the innate knowledge of their indigenous brothers, and ignored for two years. You have to be resourceful to survive that. So if that’s what we celebrate on Jan 26, is it a bad thing?
    Let’s remove the Union Jack by all means, but let’s not replace it with the Aboriginal flag or anything else, thus factionalising us all over again.Whatever our previous cultural background, we’re all Australians living under the Southern Cross.
    War historian C E W Bean, talking about the ANZAC spirit, suggested that it “stood, and still stands, for reckless valour in a good cause, for enterprise, resourcefulness, fidelity, comradeship and endurance that will never own defeat.” If that’s what we celebrate, does the date matter?
    Sorry I’ve raved on, but I feel strongly about it!

    Liked by 3 people

  7. Oh, please don’t apologise. I love a passionate debate! I really appreciate your comments and agree with much of what you have said.

    For some of the reasons you’ve argued, ideally I’d like us to find a new date with no particular historical significance and mark that as our national day. Let’s just start all over again with no baggage. Somewhere between June and November would be good. 😉

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  8. I read about this recently! January 1st….not a good day really to celebrate your countries independence along with a new year. Although…being in the southern hemisphere its not really cold in January down there is it?

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    • Hello Heather! Thanks for commenting!

      Yes, it’s summer here in January (although February is our hottest month, just when the kids go back to school). I do think the ‘founding fathers’ could have had a little more consideration for picking a date that we could celebrate appropriately… If we did go with January 1st, given the Australian love of a good party, we’d be celebrating our national day with a large portion of the population hungover from the night before. I’m not sure that’s the image we want to convey either. 😉

      Liked by 1 person

  9. Reblogged this on Master of Something I'm Yet To Discover and commented:

    Today is Australia Day. I made my thoughts about the day pretty clear last July. Today, our Prime Minister has chosen to award an Australian Knighthood (no, I don’t know why we have them either) to Prince Philip. That’s right, husband of our Monarch who lives in England. (No, I don’t know why we have to have an English monarch as our Head of State either.)
    So I figured I might just as well reblog my feelings about Australia Day, now more buried in cringe than ever before, and go about my day as normal. It’s Republic Day in India – perhaps I’ll celebrate that instead.

    Liked by 4 people

  10. Coach K of the Duke (university) basketball team won his 1000th game today. Celebrate that! Coach 1K he is now called. yes, I know it has nothing to do with anything except a picture this cute needs something momentous. and did I read that correctly? Prince….PRINCE Philip was knighted? Hey, if you like July 4,rename it and celebrate it. I like, Cute Baby With a Flag Day……That works just as well for me.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Go Coach 1K!! I shall make myself a Duke flag and wave that today. It will make me prouder than waving my own.
      You read correctly (although, when I read it in the news myself I had to check I wasn’t on a news parody site). It’s a complete embarrassment.
      I like your ideas. We need a public holiday between June and November so I think I’m going to pick a date in September, name it Real Australia Day and give myself a public holiday. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      • There ya go. I choose the full moon of August and call it ARRRRROOOOOOOOOOO Day…and howl and play Werewolves of London, really loudly while I swagger around. Go Duke. Duke’s tagline is: We’re Duke, people hate us, get over it, we don’t care.

        Liked by 1 person

        • Duke sounds like the American equivalent of the Collingwood Football Club. 😀
          I love the sound of your ARRRRROOOOOOOOO Day (literally and figuratively). I will need to find an appropriate song for my Real Australia Day because I can’t sing our national anthem without choking on the hypocrisy. “For those who’ve come across the seas, we’ve boundless plains to share.” Unless you’re a refugee in which case we’ll lock you up, torture you and never let you into the country.

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          • That’s a shame and considering so many were innocent people sent there for whatever wrong reason as a prisoner. I know there is more to the population than that, but that is one thing I remember from some book I read as a kid….someone’s dad being sent there because he stole bread to feed his family. I love the Spirit of folk down in Oz…feisty, independent, a little twisted in their humor. I’ve visited several times and really enjoyed myself.

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  11. I can only think that perhaps T Abbott realising all his hopes and ambition lie in ruins, is now taking revenge on his voters by swinging a large wrecking-ball on chain around the country.
    He knows that the issue of the republic is again coming to the fore. A Knighthood for prince Phillip?
    Unbelievable.

    Liked by 2 people

      • At least you don’t have ‘call me Dave’ and Nige “we’re not racist, we just hate Europe” in your country – who the hell are we supposed to choose in May??? [Glum face]

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        • But we’ve got “poor people won’t be affected by the fuel tax hike because they don’t drive cars” Joe and “women won’t be affected too much by the higher education fee increase because they don’t study medicine and law” Christopher and “my greatest achievement as Minister for Women was abolishing the carbon tax [presumably so the housewives of Australia would have more time to do the ironing]” Tony and…. I can’t go on. I could be here all day describing our front bench.
          And there’s not too much joy on the other side here either. Can’t we just ditch the lot of them and start again?

          Liked by 1 person

  12. Sigh! Well at least all you ex-colonials have a day off so that you can celebrate something, we poor Brits were invaded by the Romans, the Danes, and the Normans and we don’t have a ‘freedom day’ though I’m sure any minute now the Scots, the Welsh and the Cornish will be demanding one. Oh, wait a minute, you say that Australia Day is celebrating the day we colonised you? No that doesn’t sound right. But hey, some of us Brits are pretty nice too you know. And we once had an Empire Day I believe. And there is Commonwealth Day, but not many of us actually get a day off for that except in Gibraltar. How weird is that?

    Liked by 1 person

    • Seems weird that the country that gave rise to all these national days doesn’t actually have one of their own. Oh, lots of Brits are very nice (I know a few) but that doesn’t mean I necessarily want to continue to be one. I’d like to celebrate the fact I’m Australian, really.

      Liked by 1 person

  13. Sorry dear, I’m quite happy with what we have, specially when you think of the millions of dollars it would cost to change the status, every government office would have to change stationary, coats of arms, etc., uniforms for every force would have to be changed along with badges, medals, flags etc. Charities would need to remove “Royal” from their title, therefore everything with it inscribed on would need to be changed. Every group, be it sporting or social club would need to replace their flags. These are just some of the changes that would have to be made, and, do you know something, it wouldn’t make one bit of difference on how the country is run. The queen cannot veto any decision that is made by our government (a lot of people think she can), remember, she is just a figurehead. Sorry to get on the soapbox, but I would rather the money went on helping out the pensioners and homeless than into something that doesn’t really need to be done.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Oh, feel free to get on the soapbox. That’s what the blogging community is about. 🙂 I don’t agree with you but I support your right to disagree with me. Departments and organisations update their logos/stationery/uniforms/signage/flags all the time. No reason it all has to be done instantly. It could be phased in. And while there is no legal implication in the Queen as our Head of State, the fact that people think there is shows that within our national psyche we still think we are beholden to the monarchy.

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    • You must be a friend of H’s: you call her ‘dear’ … But why are you not only anonymous, but behind a false gravatar ? I find it exceeding strange that any friends of hers would do that.
      Anyway: I don’t think the point is that the queen can’t veto govt rulings – it’s that she is totally irrelevant, and has been for about as long as I’ve been alive. Or almost …
      Changing stationery and so forth is not frightfully relevant either.

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    • In some ways I’m in agreement with you. I feel that if we have a republic we would replace the queen with someone else. Just more jobs for the boys, pensions for us to pay, corruption in the ranks. And the cost I agree would be not insignificant. The queen is innocuous.

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  14. Over the ditch, our national day is Waitangi Day – Feb 6th. It’s the day in 1840 that Maori signed a treaty with the British that they believed would allow them to retain their lands, culture and identity and enable peaceful co-existence with white settlers, and which the Brits believed gave them rights over all of the above. We’ve been struggling with that one ever since. As a national day it’s marked by protest at the Waitangi site and and a whole lot of indifference everywhere else. It comes about a week after school starts, so means that kids usually begin the year with a couple of short weeks, and is always held on the 6th no matter what day of the week that is. When that’s a weekend day, there’s always a grumble. Like Australians, we wonder if it’s an appropriate way to mark nationhood, and there is the same strength of feeling that perhaps ANZAC Day would be more appropriate. Indeed, ANZAC Day is increasingly treated as our de facto national day. I think the spirit of Waitangi Day is appropriate for a national day, but the reality of what it’s meant to celebrate is missing. Despite on-going settlements of Treaty grievances, Maori are still over-represented in the statistics of disadvantage. Perhaps we’ll just have to muddle along until we become a republic and can have a real national day.

    Liked by 1 person

  15. How very interesting……I had no idea you had no day like the July 4 in the US. Everyone I know here has the dream of a trip to Australia someday and those that have made it all return with stories of wonder about what they’ve seen. Seems to me a country that can inspire such wonder in so many deserves its own independent and special day!

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  16. I remember back in the sixties my parents discussing moving to Australia. Years later, my husband told me his parents had contemplated the same thing. There was some land drive that appealed to struggling young American families, I guess. You are our cousins, as are our wonderful neighbors to the north. But, sadly, I submit that celebrating our nation’s independence is less and less the focus of the 4th of July. It’s a reason for fireworks and cookouts. We were in a tour of the Virginia State Capitol yesterday and the docent was telling us that in front of a group of Americans she remarked “we won our independence, right?” And the group of Americans were unsure. Fortunately the Germans who were part of the tour assured them that we had. It is a dream of mine to visit your beautiful country someday!!

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    • Australia Day is a bit beer and barbies too. I hope you make it here one day, Barbara! It is a beautiful country and most of the population is pretty nice even if they are likely to take the mickey and cause cultural confusion. But I would think between M-R and myself, you’ll have a good handle on the Aussie sense of humour by the time you get here. 😉

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      • I love the Aussie sense of humor. When I was selling real estate, I had the good luck to handle the transfer of about four Aussie families (men first, wives came later) and I never laughed so much in my life. All such good guys with absolutely no BS.

        Liked by 1 person

  17. So many great comments are listed here on this post. And what a post. You obviously feel strongly about the issue and so do I. I think a Republic Day would be a good way to garner celebration of our nation. The difficulty is picking a day. jan 26 has developed into a tradition, of sorts, and we don’t have too many here in Australia. Yes, a lot of beer swilling and sausage sizzling goes on. This is still their free right to celebrate in this way. And thank goodness they can. Bit like Christmas really: everyone celebrates but the true meaning is often lost. I think celebrating anyway is continuance of the tradition, whoever you are. A separate Indigenous day to celebrate the Aboriginal traditions, if they choose, would still be highlighting the divide between Aboriginals and others, so a Republic day would be a way for Indigenous, White Australians, and New Australians to celebrate together….. away from the memories of Jan 26. And that is what most of us seem to want. Changing stationary is but a blip on the radar. It would necessitate lots of changes, but it is plausible to imagine a new Australian tradition and identity be forged through a Republic and a Republic day, with the consequence being a more integrated community! Then it is worth changing any amount of paperwork! Hope you had a great Australia day. I’ll be following future posts.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Absolutely agree with you. A Republic Day would be the only way to celebrate who we are as a total egalitarian and multicultural nation. And worrying about the cost of stationery is just silly. Think how much prouder we would feel to truly be ourselves as a country rather than a relic of another’s history. Great comment and thanks for the follow. 🙂 Hope you’re getting some relief from the heat. You could always send a little bit down here – we seem to be a bit short.

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  18. And on a less serious note: It is always interesting to hear that little children adopt the accent of their new country, regardless of how young they are. When young, the voice you hear most is that of your parents, yet the country in which you reside permeated your inflections pitch and cadence of speech!! Interesting.(but not nearly as entertaining as the previous discussion!)

    Liked by 1 person

    • Weeeeell…. I may or may not have taken a little poetic licence there… 😉 I did, however, have three older siblings aged 5, 7 and 9 who would no doubt have developed accents through exposure at school and we also travelled a lot and had many friends so I was very well exposed to a different way of speaking. And I am a natural accent-pick-upperer. After a month in England when I was twelve, I spent my first year at high school explaining that no, I wasn’t English. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      • The exposure to the siblings no doubt has a big influence on your development of speech. Mind you, I was listening to a 2 year old speaking broad Australian whilst his parents and Grandparents spoke with heavy Italian/Croatian accents/and their own native tongue the other day. I assume the child care he attended was the primary reason. So, it is interesting that you do not hear more of a parent’s inflections. I remember my own children speaking expressions I would often say, when they were pre school age.

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  19. I saw your post on Christine R’s blog, glad I did. This is deep and moving. Honestly, and embarrassingly, I know next to nothing about Australia and while I dream, I have not been to your lands. Ironically though I know the English landed there I’ve never seen Australians as “English”, you’ve always been “Australians” to me, your own people. It is very sad though that much like the Native Americans here your Aboriginals are not acknowledged, respected, and appreciated as the Original people. We still talk about the glorious feast the Pilgrims had with the Indians on Thanksgiving although I’m sure there’s many truths that were long buried even as some acknowledge that we invaded this land as well. (I grew up believing that Christopher Columbus was a hero. I know better now.)

    It seems right that you should have your own day, after all Australia was a continent last I knew! Australia and its people – all of you – are really your own thing and I think so many around the world believe that. I absolutely see your point as well though about your flag and I think you should also have your own National flag. Hopefully the Australian people can come together and make this happen!

    That’s a shame your PM somehow thought that was a priority. I still don’t understand how any of that knighthood, sir, mam, duchess of this and that is important. They’re basically rich people who want fancy names, is that right? Well heck, what if I want to start making up my own fancy title? Wouldn’t that just confuse everybody? Ah but people who believe they’re entitled to significance will say it’s so no matter what. We in the US are dealing with a generation of entitled people and I fear for this generation. It seems too that we always wind up treating the original inhabitants as crap and I think it’s out of fear of the power they weld over us from the get go, thus our “conquering” of them. Hopefully sooner than later we learn the value of all people.

    Thanks again for teaching and sharing. Good luck. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi eLPy! Thanks for your great comments. I’m relieved that the ‘outside world’ does see us as individually Australian. We just need to be able to hold that view for ourselves. The whole reintroduction of knighthoods was bizarre, particularly as we are a people who are more inclined to take the piss out of people with such titles. In fact, when it was announced, many people changed their identities on Facebook, Twitter, etc to Sir Peter So-and-so or Countess Sharon Whats-her-name. Such a joke and he just made it more so by giving one to a royal. 🙄

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      • Lol, I can only imagine the “knightmare” it would become here if something like that were put in place. Oh how my eyes just rolled right on out of my head! It seems a childish thing to me really, laughable, and I think that’s all I’ve got for it…laughable. 😉

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  20. Oh and one more thing, I’m pretty sure the history and point behind our 4th of July has been lost on most. We just like to party and any time you involve fireworks people are really going to get down. The 4th is more about fireworks for all nowadays than anything else! 😉

    Liked by 1 person

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