Saturday, July 2, 2011

July 4th

What does the Fourth of July mean to us?  To many it represents gatherings of family and friends, heating up the grill for hamburgers and hot dogs, parades, fireworks, vacations, etc.  All this frivolity is great - but only if we remember the true meaning for our celebration.

Because it's so easy to get caught up in the fun part of this most serious day on our national calendar, a lot of today's parents don't teach their children its proper respect.  You may say, "Oh, come on, Ed, don't be such a party pooper.  There are more serious holidays."  No, there isn't - not about our country.  We are celebrating the founding of this great nation.  This is where it all began - The Declaration of Independence.

Hearing this term so many times, we begin to forget what it really meant.  First of all,  a very brave group of men revolted against a foreign power's control.

"Resolved, that these United Colonies are, and of right ought to be, free and independent States, that they are absolved from all allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political connection between them and the State of Great Britain is, and ought to be, totally dissolved."

Pretty big words for a small group of thirteen colonies in a new world.  They took on the strongest force on earth, the British Empire.  But then came the second part - for the first time in civilization's history, the idea of every man being born equal and having the right to choose his own destiny.

All people "are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness".

The founding fathers were declaring not just the independence of our nation but actually for all mankind.   Wow!

Independence didn't arrive until 1783 when the Treaty of Paris was signed by Great Britain abandoning all claims to America.  But what happened between the writing of the declaration in 1772, unveiling it on July 4, 1776 and the treaty signing in 1783?  A ferocious war killed approximately 4,500 of this small fledgling country's population and who knows about Indians, Englishmen, French and mercenaries.

Do we understand what happened to the 56 signers of this important document?  Do you think the British and American Tories were happy with these men?  They all suffered because of their bravery - they were hounded and many lost property; some lost family, while others lost lives.

My brother once asked me what I thought my mother would have done if she were alive at that time.  Interesting question.  My mother was tremendously patriotic and loyal to this country, but back then where would her loyalties lie?  To be patriotic then meant you respected British rule, the upstart revolutionists defied this.  Just like today in other countries, people have to make serious choices about the cost of freedom and how it affects their families and way of life.

Our forefathers developed the "American Experiment" as other countries called our revolution and for over 200 years many have watched and waited for it to fail.  Instead the ideal that Jefferson, Adams, Franklin and others dreamed up, not only survived, but turned out the greatest nation in world history.

I hope we all pass this historical meaning on to our children and grandchildren.  This is an opportune time to do so.  Happy July 4th to you all.

1 comment:

  1. Beautifully written and beautifully posed questions. My sense is that we (especially our children) take way too much for granted. They were raised as "throw away" kids in a country that told them that "we have it all, so you can."
    So things and relationships have been thrown away for years along with our Constitutional freedoms.