July 4th is a world-renowned date celebrating America’s independence from Great Britain. But there are some details about the prestigious date that are often go unrecognized by many people. The date has been celebrated as America’s Independence Day since 1776, however some noteworthy American dignitaries of the time actually expected the day of celebration to be held 2 days earlier. Historically, the day in which the Continental Congress actually voted in favor of independence was actually July 2, 1776; two days later on July 4th, delegates from the original 13 colonies adopted the Declaration of Independence. But the history goes much deeper than that.
When the initial battles of the Revolutionary war broke out in April, 1775, public sentiment was somewhat opposed to gaining complete independence from Britain (it is said that proponents of independence at the time were actually considered radicals—the notion of revolutionary violence was not very highly desired by colonists at the time). However by the same time the following year, the notion of independence from British rule had gained a significant amount of sentiment among the colonists. This sentiment was aided primarily by the growing hostility toward Britain, beginning with the riot-provoking Stamp Act of 1765 and the Boston Tea Party of 1773. By the time the infamous “shot heard ‘round the world” occurred in 1775 signalling the beginning of the American War for Independence, the tide of hostility toward the British had been slowly gaining momentum. But once the War for Independence had officially started, that tide of hostility grew from a trickle into an avalanche. Once the Declaration of Independence had been signed, a new American identity had been born. This American identity has since fueled ambition in every American undertaking from the following War of 1812 against Britain and British-loyal colonists, the patriotic and valiant efforts expressed in World Wars I & II, varied pushes for democratic liberty across Central and South America and the Middle East, and its influence on every facet of global culture has been stark and impossible to dismiss.
On this day, July 4, 2020, we celebrate 244 years of American independence, defiance against foreign oppression and the ubiquity of American cultural influence on the planet at large. Cheers to the land of the free and the home of the brave!
Editor’s note: “It is time for the world to make an official declaration of peace. All countries should scrap armies and form a unified international peace corps with the aim of cleaning up and fixing all of the issues which the planet currently faces. At Omega Morphosis, we hope to be your community for world peace.” - Andy Gwaltney
Canada Day is a day meant to celebrate not only Canada’s historical roots, but also its culture. The very idea of Canadian unity has been tested over recent years perhaps more than it has been over the past century. This may have something to do with the gradually-increased worldwide focus on globalization, recent political divisiveness, an evolution in how Canadians see themselves on the world stage—or perhaps a mix of all three. For this Canada Day, I propose that we examine what Canada was in its infancy, who we are today, and where we’re headed as a nation.
As the vast majority of Canadians already know, July 1 is celebrated as “Canada Day” in honour of our country’s foundation. That’s usually where the knowledge ends. But there are some key nuances to Canadian identity that set us apart from most other countries on the globe. Arguably one of the most culturally-significant facts about our nation’s formation is that no revolution was ever required in order for Canada to naturally form. Slowly, measuredly and peacefully growing distinct from our classical European roots and our former ties to English monarchy, we separated ourselves from old colonial rule; this is a claim that few nations have the ability to make.
Since the Cold War, Canada has been globally-renowned as being a “peacekeeping-nation”. The Canadian military has been participating in peacekeeping missions with the United Nations since 1954, and our country’s work alongside the UN in global peacekeeping efforts peaked in the 80s when Canada was providing a whopping 10% of the UN peacekeeping forces. However since 1995, Canada’s participation in UN peacekeeping efforts has been sharply declining, and as of July 31, 2019, there have only been 150 official Canadian peacekeepers in service worldwide. Canada’s decline in peacekeeping efforts are mainly attributable to 3 main reasons: first, the Somalian peacekeeping missions of the early 90s were marred by the shameful scandal of two Canadian peacekeepers torturing and killing a Somali teenager; second, Canadian peacekeepers in Croatia and Bosnia were held hostage in Serb facilities to act as a deterrent against NATO bombings, leading to mass criticism of NATO’s Military Rules of Engagement; and third, the inability of Romeo Dallaire’s Rwandan peacekeeping mission to stop the genocide of ethnic Tutsis served as one final blow to the global reputation of peacekeeping. In addition to these, decreased military spending and the War in Afghanistan in the early 21st century helped to cement Canada’s peacekeeping decline.
Today, “Canadian peacekeeping” has sadly fallen by the wayside. Be it disillusionment in the effectiveness of peacekeeping efforts or just a purely Canadian evolution away from global benevolence towards self-preservation, our peacekeeping roots (and peacekeeping identity) have faded markedly. Perhaps it is the height of naivety to long for the peace-pushing glory days of old—but our old peacekeeping heritage is one of the defining characteristics of our Canadian identity; it’s what this writer believes is what we all should have continued striving for, and it’s what I believe we can and should strive for again.
The terrors of war spread the cloud of hopelessness, and in today’s tech-tied global network, that’s a cloud that is impossible to escape. But we must try. Effort and naivety and despair and blood are all attributes of the monster of war that we’ve all sadly grown to know all too well. But naïve or not, I will support Canadian peacekeeping efforts today and well into the future; not because it’s our national identity, not even because it’s fashionable—I’ll do it because I believe it’s downright better to hope and to die in failure than to succumb to violence without even trying to fight back (even peacefully). Weakness is not a part of our legacy—peaceful cooperation is. That’s a Canadian characteristic I wish to encourage and celebrate; I sincerely hope we can all agree to that.