As promised yesterday, you will find below the video of the Fourth of July Macy’s fireworks from 2008. This video is long (23 minutes: it is the entire show) but I just wanted to share it if anyone was interested in watching it :-)
Today, July 4th, is America’s birthday. It was today, back in 1776, that the Declaration of Independence was adopted. The Declaration of Independence was drafted by Thomas Jefferson, and is one of America’s most cherished historical documents.
It is also a document that is cherished by defenders of liberty and individual rights.
When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.
We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.
That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, –That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed.
But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.–Such has been the patient sufferance of these Colonies; and such is now the necessity which constrains them to alter their former Systems of Government.
The history of the present King of Great Britain is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute Tyranny over these States. To prove this, let Facts be submitted to a candid world.
Please, follow this link to read the entire Declaration.
[All pictures above were taken in 2007, at the Thomas Jefferson Memorial, in Washington, D.C.]
A copy of the Declaration of Independence handwritten by Thomas Jefferson, as well as a copy of the original Bill of Rights, were visible at the New York Public Library from July 1st to July 3rd. No pictures were allowed. I had first seen the copy of the Declaration of Independence at the NYPL in 2004.
You can learn more about the Declaration of Independence in relation to Thomas Jefferson here.
Happy Birthday, America!
[Click on any picture to enlarge]
If you happen to be in New York City when this celebration takes place (summer solstice), I highly encourage you to go.
In our context here, Midsummer refers to the summer solstice, and the day in the year which has the longest period of daylight. It also refers to the European celebration, especially in Scandinavia.
In Sweden, it is a pretty important celebration, one of the most important of the year. Since the summer days are few and the darker days are many, the arrival of summer is reason to party: family and friends meet to celebrate with food, beer and dancing.
A maypole decorated with flowers and wreaths is usually made and raised and people dance around it.
They also make flower head wreaths that they wear.
The atmosphere is very festive and friendly.
I have never had the opportunity to go to Sweden and see such a celebration, but thanks to my mother who learned Swedish, I learned about this tradition. I also had the opportunity to participate in such a ceremony at the Institut suédois in Paris and really enjoyed it. I loved the festive atmosphere and how people were simply having fun!
Last year, I heard about the celebration in NYC but renounced going at the last minute because of the weather (mostly rainy). This year – last week – I attended (although only in part as I was joining my husband and a friend at a restaurant nearby in the early evening).
In NYC, the celebration takes place every year at Battery Park City, in Lower Manhattan.
This year, an estimated 6,000 people attended.
I was very glad to have decided to join this celebration. It was a very hot and humid summer day and my only regret is that I didn’t get a chance to try the food, or to take pictures of it. Everything looked very good. No beer was allowed though, since alcohol is forbidden in NYC Parks.
Below are two videos that I filmed with my small camcorder: the first one before it began, the second one of the celebration beginning with the bringing of the pole, the songs and dances. The second one is a bit long but you skip can through and jump to some of the songs.
Thank you very much to my Mom, Janina, for giving me the name of the songs and their translation.
– Page of the Consulate General of Sweden in New York
– Photos from the Consulate’s Flickr page
– Midsummer (Sweden.se – The Official gateway to Sweden)
– Midsummer (VisitSweden.com)
Have you heard about Manhattanhenge?
Manhattanhenge – sometimes referred to as the Manhattan Solstice – is a circumstance which occurs twice a year, during which the setting sun aligns with the east–west streets of the main street grid in the borough of Manhattan in New York City. The neologism is derived from Stonehenge, where the sun aligns with the stones on the solstices with a similarly dramatic effect. The word was popularized in 2002 by Neil deGrasse Tyson, an astrophysicist at the American Museum of Natural History.
Neil deGrasse Tyson gives more details on the website of the American Museum of Natural History:
For 2013 they fall on May 28th, and July 13th, when the setting Sun aligns precisely with the Manhattan street grid, creating a radiant glow of light across Manhattan’s brick and steel canyons, simultaneously illuminating both the north and south sides of every cross street of the borough’s grid. A rare and beautiful sight. (…)
For these two days, as the Sun sets on the grid, half the disk sits above and half below the horizon. My personal preference for photographs. But the day after, May 29th, and the day before, July 12, also offer Manhattanhenge moments, but at sunset, you instead will find the entire ball of the Sun on the horizon.
The first time I heard about it was last year and it was too late to join the fun. I did join the fun yesterday (the day before, it was raining).
Well, my dear readers, don’t expect to see gorgeous pictures below, for a number of reasons: 1) I probably should have done some testing with my camera before, because I rarely take pictures of sunsets; 2) I arrived at 7 pm for the 8.15 pm show, and it was a bit late to find some valuable room left at the best spot for pictures from 42nd St (check first picture below); 3) there were many people in the streets trying to take a pic with anything from iPad to iPhone to real camera, hence the importance of 2).
As mentioned, I had chosen 42nd St because I wanted to have the Chrysler Building in the picture… which it is not, because I had to get in front of the crowd to have a potentially decent picture (meaning not with dozens of people on the picture).
Then, there was the traffic. Everyone who’s been to New York knows that honking may be forbidden, it more or less looks like the local sport in Manhattan, not to mention that taxi drivers are – how to put it nicely? – a little impatient. So when dozens of people stand in the middle of the street to take pics of the sunset, it’s a honking concert that you witness :-)
Next time is in July and if I can join the fun, I’ll try to prepare a little bit more! In the meantime, here are some pics of the crowd and the sun.
What would have been a perfect spot, was already too crowded at 7 pm (trees on each side of the street were blocking the view)…
…and was not an option anymore at 7.45 pm.
Starting at around 7.45 pm, everyone started to try and test their camera by taking pictures of the view, the crowd growing little by little. It was kind of funny, although not for cars ;-)
All these pictures were taken before the right moment.
And here are my ridiculously bad pictures of the sun. I even had to slightly alter them with Photoshop. Sigh. Next time will be better!
[click on the pics for a bigger view]
In any case, it is an event not to be missed if you are in New York City when it happens and have the leisure to wait for it. The show is wonderful!
And here is probably my favorite picture from yesterday, taken at the end:
Did I mention I love New York?