I had a largely uneventful 4th of July yesterday. No parades, no barbecues. The most patriotic thing I did all day was take the "American History Quiz for July 4th" on The Daily Beast (got 20 out of 22--I was fairly pleased). Last year, the Housemate and I had gone down to Ala Moana beach park to see the fireworks. This year, we made no such plans--he actually worked most of the day. Luckily, though, we had a nice view of the fireworks from our living room. It was much better than the weekly Friday fireworks in Waikiki, which are in a different location about two-thirds obscured by tall buildings. It was a good show, and there were some new fireworks designs that I hadn't seen before: multiplying tiny points of light that burst and hang in the sky looking fuzzy like impressionist paintings; half spheres with streamers coming out the other side, a bit like jellyfish. I think it might be fun to design new fireworks. Where can I get that job?
After the fireworks show, we watched the movie Princess Ka'iulani (pronounce each vowel individually, with an "uh-oh" like glottal stop at the '). Based on Hawaiian history, it was a movie we'd considered seeing in theaters, so we were excited when we noticed earlier in the day that it was available to stream instantly on Netflix. It's not a great movie--the pacing is weird--but there are some good scenes, especially towards the end. Mostly, though, it's just not a good movie to see on the 4th of July. Doesn't instill any sense of American pride and makes you feel bad about what happened to the Hawaiian people. In the late 1800s, under the influence of some rich white businessmen, the U.S. aided in the deposition of the Hawaiian monarchy and finally annexed the Kingdom of Hawaii as a U.S territory. It wasn't until 1993 that Congress issued a formal apology to the native Hawaiian people for this illegal violation of the nation's sovereign rights. Add to these events the fact that Princess Ka'iulani died of illness at age 23 a year after the annexation, and the movie was a really big Independence Day downer. The timing of our Netflix browsing couldn't have been much worse.
It's good to remember history, especially to learn from our mistakes, but we can feel guilty about what our nation has done and is doing the whole rest of the year. On the Fourth of July, we should celebrate what America has gotten right and the good we've achieved. Next year I'll remember to stick to Will Smith and Independence Day.