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10:26 pm: 1776 feet
Apparently 1776 feet is something everyone can understand as symbolic of freedom. It insults the closest allies of the US. It confuses the majority of nations who don't know what is special about a building being just over 541 metres tall. Even so, it will be a triumph of civil engineering. I was told recently that the difference is that mechanical engineers build weapons, while civil engineers build targets. Have I missed something here?

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From:louderback
Date:July 5th, 2004 07:52 am (UTC)

hmmm...

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Without being at all facetious, perhaps you (or maybe I) have missed something. I assume your tone to be sardonic so I won't take this über-seriously. Outside the American press, the 1776 has usually been followed by the line "the year of the signing of the American declaration of independnce from Britain". It seems to me sufficient explanation for anyone unfamiliar with American history. Americans, for the most part don't usually require an explanation. Our educational system hasn't sunk that low.


I didn't realize the British regarded the date of the declaration and the subsequent civil war as an insult. It seems a bit nebulous to me. Do Spaniards have hard feelings about the number 1810 or regard it as an insult? How about the French and 1960 or Italy and 1947? 1835 is associated with New Zealand but I can't imagine that it is a date commonly known to the world population.



As far as confusing the majority of nations, I think that is probably true of most National or Local memorials. I think it would be impossible to explain the life-sized statue of Louis Armstrong in Armstrong park to most non-Americans. Basically, why would they care?


Your point about civil vs. mechanical engineering is dead on point, it seems to me. Whatever is built in that spot, whether loaded with symbols significant to Americans or not will be an inevitable target for those who dislike Americans.


[User Picture]
From:ringbark
Date:July 5th, 2004 11:51 am (UTC)

Re: hmmm...

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I don't think I'm 100% serious on this point, but I don't think the British do much celebrating on 4th July. By the way, the year of significance in New Zealand is 1840, when the Treaty of Waitangi was signed. But that was a treaty, not a unilateral dclaration.
In fact, there are only two nations to have unilaterally declared independence from Britain: the United States of America is one, Zimbabwe is the other. I visited both in 1987, and both were beautiful and optimistic countries. Guess which one isn't getting a return visit any time soon.
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From:ringbark
Date:July 6th, 2004 01:33 am (UTC)
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You're probably right, Ami. Traditions are things that give our life balance and order, even when they are patently ridiculous. Nevertheless, one of my English friends was very unhappy about the nationalistic way of life while living in DC on 4th July. I guess it takes all sorts. As for me, I think it's an extraordinary decision to have planned a building 1776 feet tall and be thinking that it sends a message. Not really sure where I'm leading with this, to be perfectly honest...
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