Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Happy Bastille Day!

I have always observed Bastille Day in a wide variety of ways.

Back in my radical days 1960's I used to have a huge back yard party around a punch bowl full of an elixir which I dubbed my Bastille Day Massacre. It was suitably named. this traditional observance lasted a few years until Trophy Wife put her foot down: it was always our furniture that was getting busted up.

Long story short, today I have less irreverent, more solemn feelings.

The French Embassy (somewhere) explains it thus:
Bastille Day, or the Fourteenth of July, is the symbol of the end of the monarchy and the beginning of the Republic. The national holiday is a time when all citizens celebrate their membership to a republican nation. It is because this national holiday is rooted in the history of the birth of the Republic that it has such great significance.

… The people of Paris rose up and decided to march on the Bastille, a state prison that symbolized the absolutism and arbitrariness of the Ancien Regime.

The storming of the Bastille, on July 14, 1789, immediately became a symbol of historical dimensions; it was proof that power no longer resided in the King or in God, but in the people, in accordance with the theories developed by the Philosophes of the 18th century.

On July 16, the King recognized the tricolor cockade: the Revolution had succeeded.

For all citizens of France, the storming of the Bastille symbolizes, liberty, democracy and the struggle against all forms of oppression.
To me, this grand anthem communicates a sense of arrival, of self-deliverance from the forces of tyranny. In a sense, in 2009, I feel I'm just short of such a destiny. Here, in America, I feel we are in a state of limbo. We have bit more of a path to navigate. We have walls which still have to be torn down.
Be that as it may, let's celebrate Bastille Day for its Audacity of Hope!
Joyeux Quatorze Juillet!