The column dedicated to the Independence Day continues with the words of Mark Chekares, senior writer for the Red Sox at Guy Boston Sports. You can also find his podcast dedicated to the team on Balls Deep Red Sox Podcast or subscribing on iTunes. Enjoy!
Question: What made the Independence Day an American holiday so much loved?
Answer: I think the fact that the colonists defeated the British at basically the height of their empirical power in the late 1700’s. The colonies were producing a lot of quality stuff and shipping it to England. They made a lot of people wealthy, so when unfair trade practices and tariffs started to interfere with their own wealth and labor, the colonists rebelled. And the fact that a lot of the fighters were farmers and business owners and not in the military had a lot to do with it, too. They were called Minute Men because they had to be ready to fight “in a minute.”
Q: How Americans celebrate this holiday and what is their feeling toward it?
A: We celebrate with fireworks and traditionally American foods such as hot dogs and hamburgers, usually out on a grill somewhere. The fireworks tradition began as a sort of tribute to our national anthem (“And the rockets red glare, the bombs bursting in air“) so that’s a direct reference to the War of 1812 (also against England… people forget we whipped their asses twice).
As for my family, since we live in New England we usually have clam boils, which consist of clams, hot dogs, onions, potatoes, breakfast sausages, and chorico or linguica (Portuguese style sausages). I wait every year for the 4th Clam Boil. Absolutely delicious.
Q: How 4th of July is celebrated in Boston? I mean, it’s the cradle of America.
A: In Boston, the first thing that I think about is the concert at the Hatch Shell along the Charles River. The Boston Pops play a concert in time with the fireworks celebration. It all climaxes at the end. It’s pretty impressive. I know a lot of Bostonians make their way to Cape Cod or the Islands to enjoy the seafood, sun, and the great beaches of New England. Lot’s of beer too.
Q: You have some personal memories who want to tell about this holiday?
A: I used to go to my cousin’s place in New Bedford every year. He owned a successful charter fishing business and used to put out quite the spread of seafoods and his famous New England clam chowder. His place was right on the Acushnet River and there were boat slips everywhere so we used to go out on the docks and the fireworks were launched from a barge on the river. It felt like they were exploding right over your head.
Q: What made America the greatest country in the world? Give your tribute to the Independence Day!
A: I think what made America such a force in the world so quickly is the hard work Americans have always valued. It took a ton of time and effort to establish permanent colonies here, and that Puritan work ethic has stayed with us throughout history. The first time I went to Europe, I was shocked by how early stores and businesses closed. By 5 PM everything was shut down. In America, stores are usually open until about 9 PM. That’s just a minor example, but I always cite Walt Whitman’s poem “I Hear America Singing” as the reason why America is so great.
I hear America singing, the varied carols I hear…
Each singing what belongs to him or her and to none else,
The day what belongs to the day—at night the party of young fellows, robust, friendly,
Singing with open mouths their strong melodious songs.
You can also find a previous article in collaboration with Mark Chekares, dedicated to the city of Boston, Red Sox and the “Cathedral” of Boston: Fenway Park. You can find the article here.