HOW CAN I EXPLAIN WHAT JULY 4TH MEANS TO ME? I’LL TRY THIS:
Only the Christmas holiday is more meaningful to me than our July 4th Independence Day.
In fact, there are many dates associated with the declaration of America as an independent nation, and July 4th is a good ways down the list.
It was not when our Revolution began, which was April 1775. Neither is that the day our Continental Congress actually declared independence … that was on July 2, 1776. And, Thomas Jefferson wrote the first draft of our Constitution in June 1776.
Our Declaration of Independence was signed on August 2, 1776, and was first delivered to Great Britain in November 1776.
In fact, July 4, 1776, was the day the Continental Congress approved the Declaration’s final wording.
Throughout its first hundred-or-so years, American celebrations of July 4th grew, but there was no formal declaration of the date until 1870. It was then that Congress declared July 4th a national holiday, along with Christmas day.
In my neck of the woods, celebration of the holiday is, like Christmas, affectionately attached to a great deal of American music … particular songs, that is.
I am among those who believe July 4th is about lives given in the name of America … honoring fellow Americans who died for our country.
Thus, as I have written about in the past, I know of no place more an American cultural cathedral than Arlington Cemetery. Over the decades, I have found many more or less empty spots to sit in true reverence, sometimes for hours.
(I mention, in context, that my father plus four of his five brothers served in the military during World War II. One of those uncles is numbered among the 4,400 American soldiers who died in the battle of Anzio.)
In my personal mix is, as well, a true love of American music, about which I have likewise written. It is no surprise, therefore, that I am now a YouTube music fan. I pay attention to how many times particular musical performance has been watched and listened to … the count of “views” as YouTube puts it.
It struck me last night that I should check out how many views most-popular July 4th music performances have tallied.
So, here is the list of the six most-viewed (on YouTube) musical performances, in descending order, from 29,000,000 down to 2,200,000. (The links to these performances follow … please be sure to push past any advertisements.)
From Whitney Houston’s National Anthem “Star Spangled Banner” down to “Ragged Old Flag” by Johnny Cash, these top-six most-viewed “July 4th song” performances have been viewed over 63,000,000 times.
1. National Anthem, “Star Spangled Banner” … Whitney Houston … 28.96 million views
2. “The Battle Hymn of Republic” … U. S. Army Field Band … 10.6 million
3. “God Bless the USA / I’m Proud To Be An American” … Lee Greenwood … 8.97 million
4. “America the Beautiful” … Ray Charles (1972) … 6.4 million
5. “God Bless America” … Celine Dion (aboard the USS Harry Truman) … 5.9 million
6. “Ragged Old Flag” … Johnny Cash … 2.2 million (1974 in the wake of Watergate / Nixon resignation)
Whitney Houston’s 1991 performance is so remarkable to me for several reasons, but the main one is that her exuberance is breathtaking.
I have no words to express how I feel about Ray Charles’ 1972 performance of America the Beautiful. (Yes, I am one who sang the song “in school,” as Mr. Charles mentions.)
Perhaps owing to the Shreveport part of the remarkable story of Johnny Cash, I could not be more impressed with the fact that he also wrote “Ragged Old Flag,” in response to the Watergate scandal and Richard Nixon’s resignation.
I wish for each and every one of you a rich and meaningful 4th. I well recognize that now is a tough time to do so … just as I recognize how many such tough times … worse ones … American has faced and bettered.
© 2020 Elliott Stonecipher … ALL RIGHTS RESERVED