storied celebrations: july 4th
Let Freedom Ring
When I sat down to pen this note to you I decided to dig deeper into the history behind those words. July 4th celebrates the Declaration of Independence, signed in 1776, but I urge you to pay close attention to the dates below as our country may have been independent, but all people were not.
let freedom ring: Phrase(US) A statement that the ideals of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness should be spread across the Earth and allowed to flourish.
When Martin Luther King, Jr. gave his iconic "I Have a Dream" speech, he included "let freedom ring" nine times as a way to allow his words and his voice to emulate a bell that was truly ringing out for freedom.
Samuel Francis Smith was an American Baptist minister, journalist, author and white man that wrote Let Freedom Ring, now known as America (My Country, 'Tis of Thee) in 1831. Please keep in mind that enslaved Black people were not freed until 1865, 34 years later.
The first verse reads:
My country, 'tis of thee,
Sweet land of liberty,
Of thee I sing;
Land where my fathers died,
Land of the pilgrims' pride,
From ev'ry mountainside
Let freedom ring!
An Abolitionist version was written by A. G. Duncan in 1843, but as is a true reflection of past and present times, I could not find more information on A.G. I hope you will take some time to read it in full. The first verse reads:
My country, 'tis of thee,
Stronghold of slavery, of thee I sing;
Land where my fathers died,
Where men man's rights deride,
From every mountainside thy deeds shall ring.
I realize you came here for pretty pictures, but nothing in life can be that simple while so many of our friends, families and colleagues are struggling. The desire of both Ally and myself is not to simply inspire a festive table, but to acknowledge the many colors and people that make up America - not just red, white and blue. We wanted to design an experience that lends itself to connecting, learning and sharing about the current state of our world. At the end of the day, we cannot change our skin color or past experiences, mistakes and ignorance, but we can work to be more inclusive, educated and empathetic moving forward.
In addition to the company, the foundation of any table is linen choice and serving pieces. This seemed like the perfect start to include a variety of shades as a nod to the variety of skin colors in our nation. I used two different gauze fabrics to create a breezy look for the runner (tip: it's one of my favorite textures for a textile and they can be easily dyed using things like fruit and coffee). We then incorporated hues of tans, browns, blacks and whites as a nod to all Americans.
A note from my friend and Storied Celebrations collaborator, Ally of Willow and Star:
"The dining table was a wedding gift from my grandparents, but it's origins date back much further. It is the table where my grandfather grew up eating family meals with his parents and 11 siblings. For most of my lifetime, the table resided in my grandparents' basement, a haven where childhood imaginations could run wild. In those days, my siblings, cousins, and I used the table for art projects and board games, experiments and snacks. The table holds cherished memories of my family's past. When my husband and I got married, my grandparents had the table restored and gifted it to us for our wedding. Today the table is where I sit in the mornings with my coffee for a few moments of reflection and meditation as the day begins."
No one can deny that a festive red, white and blue cookout is quintessentially American, but you don't have to go to the party store to achieve that. I shopped my own cabinets to pull from what I already had - like using the tops from my chinoiserie ginger jars as food bowls and blue decor or using taper sets I already owned, but adding candles in the muted color scheme. We also shopped Ally's home and found the most perfect blue glasses and a two-tone mortar and pestle. (Tip: you can use items like a mortar and pestle as a decor - props like that usually serve as a great conversation starter, too!) We kept the linens and serving pieces in the skin color family and worked the traditional flag colors into the middle of the table through vibrant fruits and Ally's beautiful, fragrant garden rose arrangements.
A note from Ally, continued:
"For the floral arrangements, we chose to combine locally grown blooms with roses from Grace Rose Farm, a family-owned farm in California that produces high quality, organic, heirloom roses. Commercially grown roses are bred to be pest resistant with a long vase life. While those are both great qualities, they lack some of the features that make heirloom roses so special. Most notably, heirloom roses exude the most delightful fragrance that will catch your attention before you even notice the beautiful blooms."
Thank you for stopping by. We hope this feature inspires you to shop your home and create a unique experience this Independence Day. Make sure to scroll through to the bottom as we share our favorite July 4th memories.
Lindsay's Favorite July 4th Memory: I grew up in a very idyllic neighborhood. Just a short walk or bike ride away was my elementary, middle and high school. It was a smaller town, so my neighborhood friends were also my church and school friends. We spent our days outside and holidays like Halloween were a sport. We had luminaries along the sidewalks at Christmas and for July 4th we had a huge neighborhood bike parade. I have such fond memories of decorating my pink and blue Care Bears bike with my Dad. We would add streamers to the handlebars and festive flowers to the basket. The whole neighborhood would parade past our houses. I guess our childhood often feels like simpler times and maybe because I lost him early, because we had such a loving community or both - those years and that tradition are among my favorite.
Ally's Favorite July 4th Memory: Sunshine and warm weather fuel my soul. I've always enjoyed the Fourth of July since it is a holiday celebrated during the summer months. While the day evokes many good memories of time spent with family at our local festival or the lake, a festive t-shirt has become one of my favorite parts of the holiday.
When I was six years old, my grandmother made matching skirts from American flag print fabric for my sister, cousin, and me. We paired our skirts with red t-shirts that had an American flag heart and the caption "Made in U.S.A" printed on the front. I still have the t-shirt, and I still wear it every year on July 4th. Last year, my husband and I were in Paris on July 4th. The t-shirt made the journey to France, and even in Paris I (briefly) wore it on July 4th.