“Congratulations on your revolution,” said our old, limping friend Don Salvador Gomez.
“You don’t know?” he asked arching his heavy white eyebrows. “Don’t you have a birthday coming up?”
“We’ve had our birthday. Two a year would kill us at our age.”
Don Salvador looked pained. “Your FOURTH OF JULY!” he said, almost spelling it out for us.
“Oh, of course. Why didn’t you say so.”
“I thought I had. I worked many years in your country. I know about your Fourth of July. Isn’t that what it’s about, Revolution?”
“Well now,” we said, “we always think about a lot of shooting — guerrillas and guys with whiskers — when we think of revolution.”
“And there was no shooting in your revolution? No men with beards? What kind of a revolution would that be?”
“The Fourth of July,” we said (and it sounded pedantic, even to us) “marks the date of the Declaration of Independence. This is what our celebration is about. We honor our founding fathers who declared themselves free of England on that day.”
“Well, the shooting mostly came afterward.”
“But it was a revolution, no? People with guns took the country over, no? By force?”
“We suppose so, if you look at it that way.”
“And your Daughters of the American Revolution, I’ve heard about them somewhere. We had our ‘Adelitas’ with the troops and you had our
“Look, friend,” we said patiently. “You’ve got it all wrong. Our revolution was a long time ago, about 200 years ago, and it was mostly because the British put a lot of unjust laws on us, so we just said we’d be free of them.”
“Carramba!” growled old Salvador. “You sound like you were against revolutions.”
“Well, they’re messy,” we said. “Everything topsy-turvey. Bad food in the restaurants; impossible people to deal with; bad train service; all that. Of course, there were no trains when we had ours.”
“We had trains in ours,” Don Salvador mused. “Bad service too; everybody running things to suit himself; the food was pretty bad, too, if you could get any. But it was really grand, that revolution, all the same. Those wild men all looked ten feet tall, and you sometimes felt that way yourself. I remember.”
“But your revolution was so recent. Ours is ancient history.”
Don Salvador pulled hard at one side of his large mustache and looked very thoughtful. “More’s the pity,” he said dryly.
“I mean you NEED a revolution. You do for a fact. Here it is almost the Fourth of July and you act like it was just any day. No spirit; less pride. I wouldn’t be surprised if you passed the day in bed. No firecrackers, no flags, no ‘vivas!, or whatever it is that you timid Yankees yell when you get excited — or do you ever?”
“You're kidding me. All that whiz-boom-bang stuff is for the kids. Cheap, emotional stuff. You can have it for your Johnny-come-lately revolution. It’s not our style.”
Don Salvador sighed. He looked at us crossly for a moment. Then he shook his head, squared his shoulders and declaimed in a voice that could have been heard all the way to Zapopan. “WHENEVER ANY FORM OF GOVERNMENT BECOMES DESTRUCTIVE OF THESE ENDS, IT IS THE RIGHT OF THE PEOPLE TO ALTER OR ABOLISH IT!
“What comes next?” he asked quickly. “What follows?”
“Something about the COURSE OF HUMAN EVENTS,” we said.
Don Salvador winced. “No!, No! That’s the beginning.”
Then his rich voice rose sonorously, “THE RIGHT OF THE PEOPLE TO ABOLISH IT, AND TO INSTITUTE A NEW GOVERNMENT, LAYING ITS FOUNDATION ON SUCH PRINCIPLES AND ORGANIZING ITS POWER IN SUCH FORM AS — AS TO THEM IT SHALL SEEM MOST LIKELY TO EFFECT THEIR SAFETY AND HAPPINESS!” His head inclined. He had finished. He looked spent.
“I know it better than you do,” he said quietly. “I learned it all word by word, a long time ago. It is a great document. It is not afraid to hope.”
We didn’t say much. We felt thoroughly chastened. “Well,” we finally managed, “it’s a pretty powerful thing, our Declaration.”
Don Salvador raised his dark eyes and looked us full in the face. “It isn’t yours, you know,” he said softly. “It’s for us all. It said it all — about revolutions, I mean. You should remember that.”
This article was originally published in the July 1, 1967 edition of Guadalajara Reporter founder Bob Thurston’s “Potpourri” column.