Banned for two years because of The Plague, our local celebration of the Greatest Nation On Earth (if you don’t count Canada) will see the return of Sonoma’s traditional Olde Time 4th of July Home-Town Parade and Fireworks Show.
Yes, despite another variant threatening to fill a hospital near you, Sonoma will again be packed with partiers from near and far for a day of parading and feasting around a Plaza chock-a-block full of picnickers, art, and entertainment, not to mention world-famous local wine, beer, & home-grown pot.
It will indeed be exciting to finally see so many vaxxed, boosted, tested, and probably unmasked friends, neighbors, and total strangers again jammed together cheek-to-jowl to raise a glass/bottle/keg in a toast to Our Founders’ 245-year-old vision for their new country. Minus, of course, their fondness for slavery, oppressing women, genociding native Americans, and snatching large swaths of land from Mexico.
That said, Sonoma also celebrates its own “Independence Day” this time of year, that one in 1846 when a rag-tag bunch of armed local drunks menaced General Vallejo, declaring California free of Mexico to become its own Republic. Of course, history notes that particular republic was short-lived once General Fremont showed up sober with an army to take California for the U.S. and eventually annihilate the grizzlies, whose only offense was eating Gold Rushers.
But time heals all wounds. After more than two centuries, we are now Besties with England, the grizzly is memorialized on our state flag, and the endeavors of General Vallejo and his clerical allies to “civilize the savages” are seldom mentioned in front of tourists.
Neither will there be a July 4th hunt for the unmarked graves of native Americans rumored to be buried around the Mission and elsewhere in town. Or a tour of the too-low-to-stand-in “Servants Quarters” where native American kids were locked safely away each night after a hard day of work, whipping, and catechism classes.
Gen. Vallejo has been largely forgiven for any Founding Father transgressions he may have committed, such as shooting the NIMBY natives who opposed gentrification of their Petaluma neighborhood or failing to inoculate natives against the smallpox that decimated their numbers.
Indeed, for several years he has been honored by a handsome statue of himself seated on the Plaza, a book (bible?) in hand.
The 1846 Bear Flaggers who convinced him to surrender are also commemorated by a Flag-waving-White-Guy-On-A-Rock statue. As yet there is no monument to the native Americans who initially welcomed them all to town, or to the thousands of Chinese whose labor birthed our wine industry before they were all unceremoniously deported by Congress in 1882.
Given current events, one needn’t be a cynic to wonder how different the nation’s history might have been if only the much-abused native peoples and Chinese laborers of those bygone days had possessed the same tools that, as much or more than any Constitution, seem to have made America what it is today. Or if Our Founders had possessed fewer of them.