Monday, July 03, 2006

Independence Day

Happy Fourth of July!

True story: when I was a corporate lawyer, some of the muckety mucks were going to visit the UK to meet business colleagues for the first time. They wanted to bring a gift basket. They were leaving on July 2nd, and included in the gift basket, which I happened to see by accident, were various Fourth of July memorabilia. Without commenting, I began to laugh. When questioned, I sputtered out that I found it amusing that they were giving the English gifts celebrating the 4th of July. "Why," I was asked. And I answered, in a "are you serious voice," "Cause that's celebrating our independence from the UK and we won that war?" A moment of silence, as the people earning mid six figures thought about this, and then commented, "I would think they'd be over it by now."

Luckily for us all, a "real live British person" happened to work for the company, and I said, well, if you don't believe me, ask him. The poor admin assistant went off to find British Guy; and moments later came running (yes, running) down the hall, shrieking to take the 4th of July stuff out of the gift baskets, as British Guy had confirmed that it wasn't appropriate. "What if we include a Statue of Liberty," the big wigs asked. (I repeat: those earning six figures.) I answered, tongue in cheek, about how it was gift of the French and we all know how the British feel about the French.

The admin assistant was sent againg to ask poor British Guy, and came back with the SAME ANSWER I had given. (People looked at me as if I had a Magic 8 Ball: How could I possibly have known these things?)

Statue was taken out, and mini NYC taxicabs, Empire State Building, and similar NYC items took their place.

Guess as to how well / how long that business relationship lasted.

Anyway, some links:

The Declaration of Independence site at the National Archives

The Snopes page about the Signers of the Declaration

National Treasure and 1776

Schoolhouse Rock: No More Kings

Loyalists and Canada and Loyalists

Revolutionary War Historical Fiction Booklist

Question: What is your favorite book or movie about the Revolutionary War (fiction or non-fiction)?


MLight said...

Wonderful story!

Since I like musicals, 1776 is a favorite. I'm also currently enjoying Setting the World Ablaze: Washington, Adams, Jefferson and the American Revolution, by John Ferling.

Michele said...

I have no thoughts on books, I'm afraid (being a Brit !), but I must say I laughed out loud at your anecdote. An American acquaintance of mine has asked me several times in the past, around July 4, if we celebrate it, and each time I've patiently pointed out that Brits are unlikely to celebrate a war they lost ! I'm hoping he's got the message as he hasn't asked me so far this year !

Liz B said...

While there are a handful of books that are the loyalist POV in American books, it's highly unusual & one of these days I'll indulge in buying some of the books in the UK/Canada that are from that different POV. In the meanwhile, one of the reasons I initially got hooked on Poldark (the TV show) was because Ross had fought during the war, on the side of the British, of course.

Martha Brockenbrough said...

True lawyer story: We just bought a house from a couple of legal eagles. One condition of purchase was that they get rid of the rats in the attic.

Their response? "The rats don't bother us."

Greg Leitich Smith said...

I worked for a law firm that had a major greeting card company as a client. When it came time to send out the firm's Christmas cards, one partner noticed, at the last minute, that the firm's cards were not from the company...

Chris Barton said...

Considering the sheer entertainment value, how could you give up corporate lawyering? You know, unless you simply prefer to laugh with your colleagues rather than at them.

Bkbuds said...

I've been on the other side of the pond and had similar experiences. One favorite: the footnote in a textbook that said the Boston Tea Party was when "colonial insurgents disguised as Red Indians threw tea into New York Harbor."

Red Indians ... New York ... where to begin deconstructing that one?

But nothing, absolutely nothing, beat the sheer humiliation of having to read aloud from "Huckleberry Finn" to a seminar of awed university students (who'd spent all year correcting my pronunciation) because of course my flat, 6-o'clock-news accent must be EXACTLY like a Missouri twang.

I still shake my head over that one.