My first 4th of July in someone else's country passed without my noticing. Then on July 8th at the UK Miners' Gala...
1. band and banner in medieval streets
As America's revolution is almost 1/4 of a millennia old, few come to its celebrations expecting anything but fireworks. Durham's 900 year old Romanesque cathedral (seen in the banner) is now famous as a backdrop in the Harry Potter films. History rolls on long after the sense of connection is gone.
2. Come Dungeons Dark or Gallows Grim
The 122nd Miners' Gala, however, is taking place just 22 years after the last great miners' strike and 10 years after the Conservative government flooded the mines to make sure that there would never be another massive strike.
3. Marxist-Leninist banner
The flooding of the mines and closing of the shipyards of NE England diminished union-based resistance to an ownership society much more advanced than its U.S. counterpart. In the UK 1% of the society owns 70% of the land. This may be the only place in the world where, in a mainstream procession, pictures of Marx and Lenin are still proudly carried through the streets.
4. The reviewing stand
Nonetheless, Britain still seems, to the outsider, a profoundly deferential society. Each band stops and plays for the Lord Mayor and the leaders of the now relatively powerless miners' union.
5. While the miners sing
While there are still former Durham miners to sing traditional songs I'll conclude with the first few phrases of John Berger's remembrance: "When the just cause is defeated, when the courageous are humiliated, when men proven at pit-bottom and pit-head are treated like trash...
6. Close-up of miners
"... when you gradually realize that, whatever words there may be in the dictionary, whatever the Queen says or parliamentary correspondents report, whatever the system calls itself to mask its shamelessness and egoism, when gradually you realize that They are out to break you, out to break your inheritance, your skills, your community, your poetry, your clubs, your home and, wherever possible, your bones too..."
-- Berger quote from "Miners" the opening essay in _Keeping a Rendezvous_ -- Vintage International -- I honestly felt that including more of the quote wouldn't work, would overwhelm the images. It would also be dangerous.