–President Richard Nixon
Upon greeting the Apollo 11 crew after they splash down in the Pacific Ocean on July 24, 1969
–President Richard Nixon
Upon greeting the Apollo 11 crew after they splash down in the Pacific Ocean on July 24, 1969
“There have been periods of history in which episodes of terrible violence occurred but for which the word violence was never used…. Violence is shrouded in justifying myths that lend it moral legitimacy, and these myths for the most part kept people from recognizing the violence for what it was. The people who burned witches at the stake never for one moment thought of their act as violence; rather they thought of it as an act of divinely mandated righteousness. The same can be said of most of the violence we humans have ever committed.”
–George Bernard Shaw, “Caesar and Cleopatra”
On July 14th, 2016, Mohamed Lahouaiej Bouhlel, deliberately drove a 19-ton cargo truck into crowds celebrating Bastille Day on the Promenade des Anglais in Nice, France. He murdered 84 people and injured more than 300. Bouhlel was shot and killed by police.
On July 16, 1981, singer-songwriter-activist Harry Chapin died in an automobile crash on the Long Island Expressway in New York. He was 38 years old. He was best known in the mainstream for his number one hit, “Cat’s In The Cradle” and for his song, “Taxi”.
Somewhere around 1979 I bought my first Harry Chapin album, and fell in love with the music and songs that his fans loved. The music that was rarely played on the radio due to their length or their “un-commercial-ness”. His “live” albums taught me more about Harry’s activism and his passion for helping people. As he introduced each song, he told the stories that inspired the songs and he spoke of his causes.
On the night of his death, after hearing the news; a friend of mine and I listened to every Harry Chapin album I owned. We sang along to each of Harry’s stories, and knew that even though Harry was gone–his fight and struggle would continue.
Harry’s fight was to end world hunger. In 1977 he was instrumental in forming the Presidential Commission on World Hunger. He co-founded World Hunger Year with radio personality Bill Ayres and after his death was the inspiration for USA for Africa and Hands Across America. Harry was known for putting his money where his mouth was, and often did two concerts in a city; one to pay the band and live, and the other to give the proceeds away. Harry’s efforts to sway politicians to fund programs for the hungry made him a frequent presence in Washington, D.C. In 1987, Chapin was posthumously awarded the Congressional Gold Medal for his humanitarian work. WhyHunger.Org still exists today and still does the work to fight hunger in the world.
I have had many inspirations in my life, and Harry Chapin was one of the biggest. Harry taught me that fame, fortune, and success mean nothing, unless you help people along the way. An income is useless unless one also uses it to benefit the less fortunate. It was not enough for Harry to perform and sing for his audiences, it was his calling to inspire us to do something with our lives; to sing for a reason.
“Remember when the music
Came from wooden boxes strung with silver wire
And as we sang the words, it would set our minds on fire,
For we believed in things, and so we’d sing.”
Since, I am a comedian; I’m also a frustrated singer and “wannabe” musician. That seems to be a trait among many comedians. My favorite Harry Chapin song is his closing number that he would perform at his concerts. I always envisioned myself one day singing that “story” to my audiences.
A story of a performer, singing his last song of the night. Tired, hoarse, and ready to go home; but willing to sing one more for the audience that gives him back so much more than he gives them. Harry always gave more.
It’s your “Saturday Diversion”, but in no way whatsoever, was Harry Chapin’s life a diversion.
“When in doubt, do something.
To know is to care, to care is to act, to act is to make a difference.”
“Racism isn’t born, folks, it’s taught. I have a two-year-old son. You know what he hates? Naps! End of list.”
“I refuse to accept the view that mankind is so tragically bound to the starless midnight of racism and war that the bright daybreak of peace and brotherhood can never become a reality…. I believe that unarmed truth and unconditional love will have the final word.”
–Martin Luther King, Jr.
“To live anywhere in the world today and be against equality because of race or color is like living in Alaska and being against snow.”
–William Faulkner, 1965
“The one place where a man ought to get a square deal is in a courtroom, be he any color of the rainbow, but people have a way of carrying their resentments right into a jury box. As you grow older, you’ll see white men cheat black men every day of your life, but let me tell you something and don’t you forget it – whenever a white man does that to a black man, no matter who he is, how rich he is, or how fine a family he comes from, that white man is trash.”
Photo by Daily Mail
On July 4th, 1776; the 13 colonies of America were already at war with Great Britain. Tensions between the Colonists of America and King George III had been mounting since 1763. In March of 1775, Great Britain abolished self-government of Massachusetts and was seizing arms and closing sea ports. Colonists set up a provisional congress made up of representatives from the 13 Colonies and debated declaring independence from England, as well as, trying to negotiate better terms of government with England. Negotiations failed. Armed conflict between the Colonists and England occurred on April 19th, 1775 at Lexington and Concord. On July 2nd, 1776; delegates from each colony approved a declaration, declaring their freedom from the tyranny of England and on July 4th, 1776 the document was issued.
The document announced not only the independence from Great Britain; but it announced to the world that a new country was established; and was open for business with other countries and to deal directly with other countries in matters of war and peace.
In 2016, most Americans can quote the first few lines of the Declaration of Independence:
“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, then we skipped down to:
“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.”
But, the heart of the Declaration of Independence is at the end. The representatives ask for the Judgement of the Entire World of their actions on that day. They declare they have a right to be Free and Independent, and that they realize, their actions may bring harm to themselves and their families and yet; their actions must be undertaken for the good of all concerned.
“We, therefore, the Representatives of the united States of America, in General Congress, Assembled, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of our intentions, do, in the Name, and by Authority of the good People of these Colonies, solemnly publish and declare, That these United Colonies are, and of Right ought to be Free and Independent States; that they are Absolved from all Allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political connection between them and the State of Great Britain, is and ought to be totally dissolved; and that as Free and Independent States, they have full Power to levy War, conclude Peace, contract Alliances, establish Commerce, and to do all other Acts and Things which Independent States may of right do. And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes and our sacred Honor.”
On this July 4th, 2016, I ask you to take time from your fireworks, and cook-outs to read that great document approved by the Continental Congress some 240 years ago, and declare your Independence from what ever tyranny and oppression you may suffer from, and to remember that as a living document of our history, we awake each day asking to be judged that our actions are for the greater good of all concerned.
The unanimous Declaration of the thirteen united States of America,
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.
He has refused his Assent to Laws, the most wholesome and necessary for the public good.
He has forbidden his Governors to pass Laws of immediate and pressing importance, unless suspended in their operation till his Assent should be obtained; and when so suspended, he has utterly neglected to attend to them.
He has refused to pass other Laws for the accommodation of large districts of people, unless those people would relinquish the right of Representation in the Legislature, a right inestimable to them and formidable to tyrants only.
He has called together legislative bodies at places unusual, uncomfortable, and distant from the depository of their public Records, for the sole purpose of fatiguing them into compliance with his measures.
He has dissolved Representative Houses repeatedly, for opposing with manly firmness his invasions on the rights of the people.
He has refused for a long time, after such dissolutions, to cause others to be elected; whereby the Legislative powers, incapable of Annihilation, have returned to the People at large for their exercise; the State remaining in the mean time exposed to all the dangers of invasion from without, and convulsions within.
He has endeavoured to prevent the population of these States; for that purpose obstructing the Laws for Naturalization of Foreigners; refusing to pass others to encourage their migrations hither, and raising the conditions of new Appropriations of Lands.
He has obstructed the Administration of Justice, by refusing his Assent to Laws for establishing Judiciary powers.
He has made Judges dependent on his Will alone, for the tenure of their offices, and the amount and payment of their salaries.
He has erected a multitude of New Offices, and sent hither swarms of Officers to harrass our people, and eat out their substance.
He has kept among us, in times of peace, Standing Armies without the Consent of our legislatures.
He has affected to render the Military independent of and superior to the Civil power.
He has combined with others to subject us to a jurisdiction foreign to our constitution, and unacknowledged by our laws; giving his Assent to their Acts of pretended Legislation:
For Quartering large bodies of armed troops among us:
For protecting them, by a mock Trial, from punishment for any Murders which they should commit on the Inhabitants of these States:
For cutting off our Trade with all parts of the world:
For imposing Taxes on us without our Consent:
For depriving us in many cases, of the benefits of Trial by Jury:
For transporting us beyond Seas to be tried for pretended offences
For abolishing the free System of English Laws in a neighbouring Province, establishing therein an Arbitrary government, and enlarging its Boundaries so as to render it at once an example and fit instrument for introducing the same absolute rule into these Colonies:
For taking away our Charters, abolishing our most valuable Laws, and altering fundamentally the Forms of our Governments:
For suspending our own Legislatures, and declaring themselves invested with power to legislate for us in all cases whatsoever.
He has abdicated Government here, by declaring us out of his Protection and waging War against us.
He has plundered our seas, ravaged our Coasts, burnt our towns, and destroyed the lives of our people.
He is at this time transporting large Armies of foreign Mercenaries to compleat the works of death, desolation and tyranny, already begun with circumstances of Cruelty & perfidy scarcely paralleled in the most barbarous ages, and totally unworthy the Head of a civilized nation.
He has constrained our fellow Citizens taken Captive on the high Seas to bear Arms against their Country, to become the executioners of their friends and Brethren, or to fall themselves by their Hands.
He has excited domestic insurrections amongst us, and has endeavoured to bring on the inhabitants of our frontiers, the merciless Indian Savages, whose known rule of warfare, is an undistinguished destruction of all ages, sexes and conditions.
In every stage of these Oppressions We have Petitioned for Redress in the most humble terms: Our repeated Petitions have been answered only by repeated injury. A Prince whose character is thus marked by every act which may define a Tyrant, is unfit to be the ruler of a free people.
Nor have We been wanting in attentions to our Brittish brethren. We have warned them from time to time of attempts by their legislature to extend an unwarrantable jurisdiction over us. We have reminded them of the circumstances of our emigration and settlement here. We have appealed to their native justice and magnanimity, and we have conjured them by the ties of our common kindred to disavow these usurpations, which, would inevitably interrupt our connections and correspondence. They too have been deaf to the voice of justice and of consanguinity. We must, therefore, acquiesce in the necessity, which denounces our Separation, and hold them, as we hold the rest of mankind, Enemies in War, in Peace Friends.
We, therefore, the Representatives of the united States of America, in General Congress, Assembled, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of our intentions, do, in the Name, and by Authority of the good People of these Colonies, solemnly publish and declare, That these United Colonies are, and of Right ought to be Free and Independent States; that they are Absolved from all Allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political connection between them and the State of Great Britain, is and ought to be totally dissolved; and that as Free and Independent States, they have full Power to levy War, conclude Peace, contract Alliances, establish Commerce, and to do all other Acts and Things which Independent States may of right do. And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes and our sacred Honor.
Thomas Heyward, Jr.
Thomas Lynch, Jr.
Charles Carroll of Carrollton
Richard Henry Lee
Thomas Nelson, Jr.
Francis Lightfoot Lee
Robert Treat Paine
“But what do we mean by the American Revolution? Do we mean the American war? The Revolution was effected before the war commenced. The Revolution was in the minds and hearts of the people; a change in their religious sentiments, of their duties and obligations … This radical change in the principles, opinions, sentiments, and affections of the people was the real American Revolution.”