Happy Bastille Day.
I am pleased when I look at my calendar and see printed on July 14, a reminder that oppressed people occasionally stand up for their rights.
Bastille Day, or Fete Nationale, as it is called by the French, commemorates the day that the French middle class stood up to the aristocracy, stormed a prison with seven people being held in it and put France on the path toward being what it is today.
What makes me even happier is that the calendar is very particular to choose to honor a very particular group of oppressed people.
Here in the States, we have our revolution marked on the calendar of course, we’ve French independence covered today and we even throw Boxing Day a bone, but we don’t have any days marked that honor the uprisings led by enslaved peoples on American soil.
And thank goodness for that.
Remembering Bastille Day gives us uplifting, inspiring and beautiful musicals like Les Mis. Putting a pin in July 14 allows us to sip café au lait, enjoy beignets and think about Monet, Manet, Millet. Taking a moment to think about the brave bourgeoisie brings us one step closer to pretty things like the Eiffel Tower, the Champs Elysse and the Louvre. Likewise, July 4th is fun and filled with fireworks and food. Boxing Day makes us feel a bit closer to our Canadian compatriots, our British buddies and our Kiwi cousins.
If we had a day where we had to think about slaves struggling for some scrap of dignity just makes us feel bad. Like an awkward family dinner at Thanksgiving. And no amount of stuffing and sweet potatoes can get ride of that taste.
And besides, the French are all romantic and stuff and thus, their wars must be, too. Slaves were simply a sign of the times. No need to belabor the point by segregating a square on the calendar.
And really, which is more fun to say? “Bon Jour de Bastille,” or “Happy Slave Day?”