Setting Fourth

After 13 years in the newspaper business, you get used to certain patterns, especially at holidays. So, in honor of our nation’s 235th birthday, here are 13 certainties about Independence Day:

1) There will be at least one survey showing that a quarter of Americans think the colonies declared independence from Mexico, or that George Jefferson wrote the Declaration of Independence … assuming that’s not the name of Eminem’s latest rap. The remaining three-quarters will cluck at the displayed ignorance, berate the state of the schools … and then never think about it again until the next July 4.

2) Somewhere, somehow, in this country, a production of 1776 is being staged.

3) Our dog Duchess will be completely undisturbed by the incessant fireworks, the only thing in life that fails to scare her. This will be made up for by a nationwide canine chorus that will echo from sea to shining sea, in perfect counterpoint to the bottle rockets, cherry bombs and other minor artillery.

4) Somewhere, somehow, in this country, the 1812 Overture will be performed, despite being about the victory of Imperial Russia over Imperial France. No one will mind because cannon are just that cool.

5) At least one third of the people in any given community will have a “watch spot” for fireworks that is guarded more zealously than a favorite fishing spot, and often produces more satisfaction. (For me as a child, it was my parents’ roof.)

6) If the temperature rises above 80 degrees, at least one TV weatherperson will refer to the day as “hotter than a firecracker.” This will become near-unanimity as the mercury travels above 90. There is no known way to prevent this.

7) Every American will encounter at least half a dozen articles/columns/websites which proclaim a list of “Myths about the American Revolution you never knew.” Eighty percent of them will be the same myths that were run last year.

8) Somewhere, somehow, in this country, a 10-year-old is discovering how awesome Black Cats sound when set off in a trash can.

9) In honor of New York colony, reason number nine will abstain … courteously.

10) Every resident of every town and city in America knows in their heart of hearts that their community’s fireworks show is either the best or the worst to be found in the country. There is no apathy when it comes to skyrockets.

11) “The Stars and Stripes Forever” is truth in advertising. That is roughly how long you will continue hearing Da-DA, da-da-DA, da-da-DA after the band has finished playing.

12) Now and forever, July 4 is for family – whether it’s the family gathered around the backyard barbecue grill, the city-wide family gathered in the park to hear the band, or the nation-wide family looking back on yet one more birthday for its country and the labor, love and sacrifice behind it. A flag may march at the head of Indpendence Day, but the smile of a child, happy and free, is at its heart.

And finally …

13) It is a certainty that hack writers will use July 4 as an excuse to declare independence from work, creating a 13-point list in place of a real column.

It doesn’t get more self-evident than that.

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