Wednesday, July 3, 2019

Independence Day 2019

Painting by John Archibald Woodside, 1814

I usually post these patriotic images or something like them on the 4th of July on Facebook or here. Lately each year this gets harder, but I decided to post them again this year.  Now, I feel no affirmation or joy, but only anger and sorrow.  Everything that these images stand for is being trashed and betrayed.  People worked, struggled, bled, and died over the last 150 years to turn “Liberty and Justice for All” from a pious sentiment into a concrete reality. And now all their work and sacrifice is being undone.
As our republic throws away the liberal democracy that it invented to embrace a squalid despotism, this Independence Day I want to remember not great leaders or heroes, but the many people in the rank and file who did all the work, al the fighting, and all the dying.  The USA was made by and for them.  Constitutional democracy of the people, by the people and for the people is now perishing from the face of the earth.  Ever since the end of the Civil War in 1865, the project of American history was to expand the franchise, to include more and more people in the phrase We The People...  The modern era began when people decided to rule themselves rather than be ruled. And now autocracy will replace Liberty. Domination will replace Equality. And power will replace Justice. May Liberty, Equality, and Justice live again.

The Statue of Liberty photographed by Andreas Feininger in the early morning hours with a starlit sky, 1943.

A detail from Constantino Brumidi's Apotheosis of Washington in the dome of the US Capitol, 1865

A cartoon by Thomas Nast calling for universal enfranchisement, 1869


As the official celebration in Washington DC this year glorifies our presumptive dictator, so I want this blog to commemorate the rank and file by whom and for whom the USA was created.  So no Presidents, no great leaders, no military commanders, and certainly no celebrities.  Just the Everybody who did the work, fought the fights, and made the sacrifices to make the USA live out in concrete fact its founding creed that all are created equal and endowed with inalienable rights.

"Contraband Jackson," a young escaped slave who served as a drummer boy and stretcher bearer for the US Army, photographed about 1863.

William Harvey Carney of the Massachusetts 54th Infantry Division, the first African American to be awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor, photographed about 1864.

Union soldiers with their flag, about 1864

Alexander Gardner, Harvest of Death, photograph of Union dead from Gettysburg, 1863

Lewis Hine, Coal Miners in Alabama, 1910.  The young man front and center is Shorpy Higginbotham who was 14 years old when Hine took this photograph.  He died in a mining accident in 1928 at age 32.

The Lawrence, Massachusetts mill strike, 1912

Striking transit workers clashing with mounted police in Philadelphia in 1946

Identifying dead workers from the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire in New York, 1911

Mrs. Herbert Carpenter in a Women's Suffrage march, New York, 1914.

Suffragists picketing the White House in Washington DC in 1917.

Celebrating the passage of the 19th Amendment giving women the right to vote, 1920.

American soldiers, World War I

American soldiers in combat, World War I

American soldiers plant the first flag on Guam recaptured from the Japanese in 1944

American paratroopers with a captured Nazi flag, France, 1944

American soldiers at the Luitpold Arena shortly after the fall of Nuremberg, 1945.

American dead on the beach of Tarawa, 1943

Charles Moore, photograph of high school students hit with high pressure fire hoses in Birmingham, Alabama during a Civil Rights protest.

Marchers in the Selma to Montgomery march for Civil Rights, 1965

James Karales, photograph of a marcher on the Selma to Montgomery March for Civil Rights, 1965

John Olson's famous photograph of injured American soldiers at the Battle of Hue, Vietnam, 1968

Vietnam Veterans Against the War march in Hartford, Connecticut, 1969

Diana Davies, photograph of a Gay Liberation Front demonstration in Times Square, New York, 1970

Jonathan Bachman's famous photograph of Ieshia Evans confronting police at a Black Lives Matter protest in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, 2016

Occupy march in Denver, Colorado, 2011

No comments: