Past safe; future uncertain

Published 10:43 am Tuesday, July 5, 2016

As we celebrate the 40th anniversary of the U.S. Bicentennial, the memories come flooding back.

I remember: helping my family reconstruct a log cabin as a multi-year “Bicentennial project”; seeing my mother buy a glass Liberty Bell jar at Kuhn’s Variety Store and start filling it with “drummer boy” commemorative quarters; smiling that Captain America co-creator Jack Kirby was reunited with his character in time to do a Bicentennial comic-book storyline; and watching those “Bicentennial Minutes” on CBS.

I remember corporations shamelessly jumping onto the Bicentennial bandwagon and cranking out red, white and blue products. Someone should have drawn the line: “We hold these truths to be self-evident…that a red, white and blue colonoscopy is still a colonoscopy!”

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I remember writing an essay in freshman English class explaining that I wished I could have been born TWO YEARS EARLIER so I would be old enough to vote in the presidential election during America’s Bicentennial year. Now that I’m dealing with crow’s feet and thinning hair, I smack my forehead and exclaim, “Dummy! It would’ve been a lot easier to hire whoever the cool kids hire to make a fake ID!”

Only two years after the Nixon resignation and one year after our humiliating withdrawal from Vietnam, we used those disillusioning events as fuel for doubling down on the patriotism. If CIA documents had somehow proven that John Wayne was in fact a cross-dressing Soviet on stilts, the sky would have been the limit for patriotism!

Thank goodness for the patriots who stood up to British oppression and gave us our own republic. And thank goodness that we haven’t developed time travel, or 21st-century meddlers would be going back and tampering with the Revolutionary War period. Here are some possibilities:

1. The Midnight Ride of Paul Revere would’ve fizzled out if some entrepreneur had made the lanterns in Boston’s Old North Church PAY-PER-VIEW.

2. 21st-century monetization strategies would have made Ben Franklin’s “Poor Richard’s Almanack” into “Suddenly Wealthy Richard’s Kite-Flying Blog”.

3. Most colonies would be more interested in Zig-Zag papers than the Federalist Papers.

4. Thomas Paine’s “Common Sense” would have been renamed “Oh, Heck, Let’s Just Let An Algorithm Figure It Out.”

5. The “shot heard ‘round the world” would have brought out libertarian candidates trumpeting “what can be accomplished without those restrictive noise ordinances.”

6. Instead of meeting Great Britain’s superior naval forces with their own ragtag navy, Americans would have met the British ships with polar bears on floating ice chunks. (“I have not yet begun to deliver climate change speeches!”)

7. Patrick Henry would issue the challenge, “Give me liberty or give me $15 an hour —- preferably the latter.”

8. Instead of dumping tea into Boston Harbor, GOP contributors would be dumping potential Trump contributions into it.

9. Profiling of “redcoats” would be outlawed. (“Just because they wear that uniform and fire at Minute Men doesn’t mean…”)

10. Yankee Doodle puts a feather in his cap and calls it “non-GMO macaroni”.

Yes, the past is safe, but much mischief can be wreaked in the future. Did you know that Congress started the planning process for the Bicentennial on July 4, 1966? We now have a full decade to prepare for our 250th anniversary.

And surely the ACLU will celebrate with a lawsuit beginning, “You don’t call a nearly 40-year hounding an UNREASONABLE SEARCH? We demand justice for Waldo!”


Danny Tyree welcomes email responses at and visits to his Facebook fan page, “Tyree’s Tyrades.”