Happy Independence Day 2017!

Happy 241st Birthday, America.

Bear in mind: “Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness” and in the end, when the Founding Fathers declared at the end of the document: “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.” They were about to do something dangerous, and they knew it. The experiment continues, 241 years later. It hasn’t been easy, but don’t give up.

And, so NPR did its annual reading of the Declaration of Independence. Yes, it was the Founding Fathers’ airing of grievances against the King of England, but it was more than that – it was about creating a nation – imperfect, but paving a way for revolution.

Amid the celebrations, take a moment to reflect on the meaning of “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness,” and don’t forget that the Constitution does say we’re “to form a more perfect union.” I was listening to Brian Lehrer’s show on WNYC the other day and he made an interesting point about America’s birthday: like any birthday, acknowledge it, warts and all, and hope (and work) for better. (btw, I’ll link to the Brian Lehrer show segment – it was interesting to hear listeners call in to say how they felt about being American).

Lots of cool things happened on 7/4. Weirdly: both Thomas Jefferson and John Adams died on July 4.

July 4, 1827 is also Emancipation Day for NYS, as the day that slavery was finally abolished in NYS.

July 4, 2017, is also the 200th anniversary of the Erie Canal, which transformed NYS and NYC (see here for a WNYC item on this).

July 4, 2017, is also the 20th anniversary since Pathfinder made it to Mars.

Well, at least I’m trying to be on the bright side on this holiday.  You should too!

Memorial Day 2017

On Memorial Day: be sure to take a moment to reflect on those who served and made the ultimate sacrifice for us and our values.

And, to those who observe: best wishes for Ramadan.

I think that Memorial Day and APA Heritage Month make for an interesting combination.  It’s more than enjoying the unofficial start of summer, but to reflect and consider people who don’t always get remembered.

Consider: NBC News Asian America has an interesting article by Lakshmi Gandhi, profiling Hazel Ying Lee, “Remembering Hazel Lee , the first Chinese-American Female Military Pilot.” She was one of two Asian-American women who were WASPs, when WASPs weren’t necessarily considered part of the military, and when civilians wondered if Chinese people were the Japanese enemy.

Or consider this NPR item, which aired on “All Things Considered”: “Don’t Say ‘Thank You for Your Service’ This Monday,” as we recognize that those who served are part of the diverse fabric of American life – and they do what they believe in, not to be thanked, and because we should remember their friends who didn’t get to come home.

I also tend to think that Americans have lost sight of the meaning of both Memorial Day and Veterans Day (aka Armistice Day, aka the day that World War I ended). While you should enjoy the day, it’s not as simple as saying “Have a Happy One,” when there ought to be more reflection or service involved.

(and as for how we treat those who served, served, and survived – well, that’s another issue, but it’d be nice if we can do better for them; like the article says, saying thanks is nice, but it’s not an end in and of itself).

And, bearing in mind that Memorial Day was once Decoration Day, it’s also about tending to the tombs and paying respect.  I liked this item over at NPR, about a man’s project to clean the headstones of World War I veterans.

“Perhaps not imagining a face of an individual is a product of the military culture, one that simply relied on trusting the members of your team, regardless of where they came for or what they looked like. And perhaps seeing the green, blue, white, tan, or khaki uniform is all I really needed to know because people of all races, creeds, color, and religions have fought for our country.” — Art delaCruz.

delaCruz’s moving essay over at NBC News Asian America is worth a read. In our current charged political climate (then again, when is it not charged?), perhaps it’s more important than ever to reflect on the diversity and commonality of our armed forces and how that represents all of us.  A lot of food for thought.

April Begins!

I saw the Final Four on April 1- well, the 2nd half Game 1 (Gonzaga vs. South Carolina), and the bulk of Game 2 (North Carolina vs. Oregon). I had picked Gonzaga and North Carolina as part of the Final Four, but had also picked Villanova to repeat over North Carolina, so… yeah, busted brackets, as usual, but some good games.  I have a soft spot for Gonzaga, but North Carolina’s on a roll to make up for last year, so we shall see who will win the championship between Gonzaga vs. North Carolina on Monday, April 3.

I forget that the NCAA tournament would have quite a bunch of commercials – it’s a definitely a different vibe than the Super Bowl or Oscars. In other words: I don’t know whether I’ll watch the Wonder Woman movie or Christopher Nolan’s “Dunkirk” movie or buy Amazon’s Alexa, but the seeds are planted in my mind. Thanks, commercialism!

I will have to do a full post, but am I glad that FX renewed “Legion.”  The season finale – the tv series overall – a roller coaster of emotion, sound (or in one episode, the lack of sound), and sight.  What will happen next to David Haller, the mutant who has some problems that the rest of us ought to be glad to not have…?

Otherwise, I’m so behind on everything. Oh, and baseball is back.  I need the distraction anyway…