Sunday, July 4, 2010

The Fourth and France

Last night I watched a fabulous fireworks display sponsored by our town: Hartford, Vermont. I happen to live across the street from Kilowatt Park, a park and playing field next to the Connecticut River and just upstream of Wilder Dam. The "Kilowatt" name comes from the presence of Wilder Dam, and the park is there because it is a federally-mandated low-use area (no permanent buildings) near the dam. There's a soccer field, hiking trails, picnic benches. And once a year, the town sponsors a fireworks display with rockets shot above the river. Which is just about as safe as pyrotechnics can be.

After it grew dark, the local bands stopped playing and a solitary man stepped up to the microphone. He began singing The Star Spangled Banner. As he sang rockets red glare...whoosh. The first rocket shot up in the sky, and thousands of glowing sparks fell. We had perfect weather, and this was a glorious display. (Hey Tad, if you are reading this: Wow, you did a great job!)

But What About the French?

On the Fourth, we remember the American founding fathers and the founding mothers and the Declaration of Independence. We tend to downplay the French connection. The French fought side by side with the American revolutionaries, sending battalions and ships. Lafayette did not come alone. The French government supported the Revolutionaries with their Navy, supplies and troops.

Well, yeah, the French government helped us because the "Enemy of My Enemy is My Friend" but the bottom line is...they helped us. Most of the French soldiers in America were volunteers, inspired by ideals of democracy and freedom. I can't get a firm count on this, but there were at least 12,000 French ground troops on our side, as I read various Internet articles. We'd still be singing God Save the Queen if it weren't for the French.

Aside: The second verse of God Save the Queen is just plain ridiculous IMHO. "Frustrate their knavish tricks." That's a prayer? That's part of a national anthem? No disrespect to Great Britain or Canada or anybody. But have you ever thought about dropping that second verse? End Aside.

We were helped by the French way back when, and we still have a lot to learn from the French.

Fuel Recycling

For example, the French recycle nuclear fuel. They have been doing it since 1976, and a group of us visited their facility last month. Steve Aplin of Canadian Energy Issues has an excellent post about our visit.

Therefore, in honor of Independence Day, and in honor of the friendship between America and France, I am sharing a ten minute video about fuel recycling at La Hague.

Happy Independence Day to all Americans!

And while we are at it: Vive La France!

Carnival of Nuclear Energy

The Eighth Carnival of Nuclear Energy is up at Next Big Future. The Glorious Fourth is a great day for a Carnival. Stop over and enjoy yourself.

1 comment:

DV8 2XL said...

For the record "God save the Queen" has status as an anthem in Canada is that of a royal salute on the same level as the U.S. salute "Hail to the Chief." "Oh Canada" is our national anthem.

And on that note I wish you all a happy Independence day. I can tell you I miss the days when we used to take the shot drive to the U.S. Air Fore Base near Plattsburgh for the fireworks on the Fourth. There were sometimes as many good French-Canadians there waving Stars-and-Stripes as there were Yanks.

It was no doubt the biggest firework display of the season one could see. I'd often wonder if there was any other place in the world where the citizens of one country made a point of celebrating the national day of another country, and were made as welcome doing so.