Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Fireworks on Friday the 13th

We had intended on watching the DC fireworks show on the 4th of July. Since we live in the area, it seemed the logical choice. But having dealt with the crowds on the National Mall for the last two years, we decided that, instead of actually going into the city, we would watch the show from the Virginia side of the Potomac River. This view is quite different than being underneath the fireworks on the mall. In addition to being easier on the neck it also includes the landmark buildings/memorials on the mall which gives it a whole different feel. This picture (one I cannot claim credit for) gives you some sense of what I am talking about.

It sounded like a good plan, but as with many good plans, it looked better on paper than in real life. After our backpacking trip in Shenandoah we were tired, hot, and very sweaty and were late enough in the day that any parking at all close to where you can see the fireworks was long gone (people often camp out for most of the day). As we drove back toward DC the thought of fighting traffic, searching for a place to park, then walking (what would likely have been) a couple miles out in the heat to sit out in the heat and then have to fight traffic to leave and get back home late before going to work the next morning (Alison was opening at starbucks and had to be there at 5:00am) rapidly lost its appeal.

So instead we had a nice dinner, went back home, took soothing showers, and watched the Capitol Fourth (including the concert at the capitol and the fireworks show) on TV from our couch. It was a bit lame, but we both agreed it was good decision given the circumstances.

The decision was made better by an indirect result of the power outages from the storm I wrote about in my last post. Because they did not yet have power, the city of Gaithersburg, MD canceled their fireworks show on July 4. Since they already had everything ready to go they decided to do it on Friday the 13th instead. Alison got wind of it on the radio so we randomly drove up to Gaithersburg (north of DC) Friday evening and celebrated the fourth of July on the thirteenth. It was actually quite an impressive show, and was substantially better weather than the 4th had been. So, though a little delayed, it was a noble way to commemorate the birth of this nation.

I wanted to come up with a good reason why we celebrated Independence on July 13, but sadly have come up dry on that date. Independence was declared on July 2, the declaration itself was agreed upon on July 4, it was read publicly in Philadelphia on July 8, it was officially adopted by the New York delegation (who had abstained on July 4) on July 15, it arrived in Williamsburg (the capitol of Virginia) on July 19, was printed in the Virginia Gazette on July 20, and was officially signed by (most of) the delegates on August 2. But for all my efforts, I can find no direct connection to Independence on July 13, 1776.

My best option for an event which occurred on that day is the Birth of Caroline of Baden. Who is Caroline of Baden you ask? Well Caroline was the daughter of Charles Louis, Hereditary Prince of Baden and Amalie of Hesse-Darmstadt. Caroline married the future Maximilian I of Bavaria in 1797, but kept her Protestant faith throughout her marriage. Besides being a twin herself, Caroline had two sets of identical twins. Among these daughters were two future Queens of Saxony and a Queen of Prussia. Aren't you glad you asked?

My best option for to connect to a spirit of American independence in general is that on July 13, 1865 Horace Greeley published his famous charge to "go west young man," thus beginning/encouraging significant migration into the western states/territories of the recently reunited nation.

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