I wonder how many people reading this who are not history professors are aware of the significance of November 5th. Over in England, I understand it is a pretty big deal as Guy Fawkes Day. Clear back in 1605, a disaffected Catholic named Guy Fawkes had placed gunpowder kegs beneath Parliament and planned to blow up every member of that body in an attempt to restore Catholic rule to England. He was caught in the act, tried and executed for treason. This gave rise to a popular rhyme:
The 5th of November
Gunpowder, treason & plot
I see no reason why the gunpowder treason
Should ever be forgot
This was also the unofficial celebration of lets bash Catholics day in England.
In American, however, Guy Fawkes and his treason are pretty much forgotten. While I’m frequently exasperated at the average American’s lack of historical knowledge, in this case, I think a bit of national amnesia can be a very good thing.