"Pay attention to the world." -- Susan Sontag
Fourth of July in America, 2021

Fourth of July in America, 2021

From Beyond the Revolution: A History of American Thought from Paine to Pragmatism by William H. Goetzmann:

“In America… revolution has taken place by means of a peculiar process, that of absorption through selection — of people, of ideas, of images, of experiences, of things. Europe was at first an obvious source of inspiration because of its antique heritage, which made American history seem to be part of European, or ‘world,’ history. Very quickly, thanks to the sea traders of the Atlantic coastline, America’s inspiration became global, and the world itself acted as a gigantic museum from which Americans derived their education in self-identity. This process… requiring constant redefinition of America’s physical orientation in terms of changing concepts of global geography and a multitudinous observation of world lifestyles and values, has never ceased….

“Lacking a history and a character, Americans almost inadvertently created them early in the nineteenth century out of world history, world lifestyles, and world ideas…. America’s unity and national character arose, from a generous, indeed limitless, cosmopolitanism that embraced men and ideas from all nations.”

From Remarks by President Biden in a Naturalization Ceremony with Essential Workers and Military Service Members on July 3, 2021:

“You have each come to America from different circumstances and different reasons and 16 different nationalities.

“But like previous generations of immigrants, there is one trait you all share in common: courage. It takes courage to get up and leave everything you know… for a new start in the United States of America.

“So I want to thank you all for choosing us, and I mean that sincerely. Thank you for choosing the United States of America, believing that America is worthy of your aspirations, worthy of your dreams.

“Making this journey, you have done more than move to a new place. I’ve often said that America is the only nation in the world founded on an idea. Every other nation in the world is founded on the basis of… geography or ethnicity or religion. You can define… almost everyone else based on those characteristics, but you can’t define America…. We’re an incredibly diverse democracy.

“But there is one thing that does define us a country: We were founded on an idea that, ‘We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men [and women] are created equal… endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights… Life, Liberty, [and] the pursuit of Happiness.’ It sounds corny to Americans, as we learn this in grade school and high school.  We’ve never fully lived up to it, but we’ve never, ever, ever walked away from it….

“Every generation opens that aperture a little bit wider.”


I had never seen a Naturalization Ceremony — from which I excerpted part of President Biden’s speech above — before, but caught yesterday’s just as it was starting. It was quite moving to watch, especially given Biden’s characteristic style, describing everyone there — every new American citizen — as an equal to every other citizen, including the President of the United States. If you would like to read his remarks, click the link above the quotation; or, you can watch the entire ceremony here: President Biden Holds Naturalization Ceremony at White House.

As has become my habit, I’ve assembled a few photos — in red, white, and blue… and this time, with a pair of bees gathering pollen from a freshly opened blue Rose of Sharon bloom — and presented them in the galleries below.

Thanks for taking a look! and Happy Independence Day!

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