Independence Day

The Day Independence Didn’t Begin

While many in the United States celebrate Independence Day today, one thing we need to remember is that July 4, 1776, was only one day in the long struggle for freedom. In fact, it was closer to the end of the struggle instead of the beginning, as most people think.

Americans (known as British subjects back then) began the struggle for independence while they were fighting next to British troops in the countryside against the French (we know this conflict as the “French & Indian War”, the Brits know it as the “Seven Years War”: 1754-1763) It was during this conflict that many of our future nation’s leaders were born. For they saw the policies and practices of the British and realized then that they were going to be treated unfairly, even if they won the war. George Washington became our nation’s first leader because of the failures, which in some cases were horrendous, and successes. This conflict was his training ground! After the war was over, it was the actions of the British parliament that led to the American leaders protesting the unfair taxes placed/forced on them to pay for the war. It was through these protests that our pursuit of freedom really began.

July 4, 1776, was the culmination of our frustrations with the British. What most American forget is that we almost “kissed and made up” with the British in 1775. Had the British government accepted the “Olive Branch Petition” from the colonies, we could very likely still be subjects of the crown. Oh how different our lives would be, right?

The Revolutionary War ended in 1783, almost 10 years after it began. So, let’s not take our freedom for granted on this day. The battle wasn’t won during a short fight, it was won over a long period of time. Many sacrificed all – both then and now. There are many who are sacrificing even now so that we might remain free. Don’t let us take it for granted!

I want to end with a smattering of quotes. I end this post this way because I feel we, as a nation, are headed into dark times if we continue to dishonor our heritage and the sacrifices of those who came before us. We are giving up on the ideals and principles that our country was founded on. Maybe we aren’t giving up on them, maybe we are just ignoring them. Or maybe we just don’t care because we have become too selfish and too apathetic, I don’t know for sure. But what I fear is that the road we are on will not perpetuate the greatness we have known in the past. Ben Franklin is famous for saying after the ratification of the Constitution in 1787, in response to a question about the kind of government we would have, “A republic, if you can keep it.” Today, I think he may be right. The challenge is to maintain it and those WE have elected over the years are eroding the foundations of our house. Let me be clear, WE the people are the problem, not our politicians. WE put them in office and, unfortunately, they do what WE want them to (even if is seems dysfunctional).

“Freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction. We didn’t pass it to our children in the bloodstream. It must be fought for, protected, and handed on for them to do the same.”
–Ronald Reagan

“If the freedom of speech is taken away then dumb and silent we may be led, like sheep to the slaughter.”
–George Washington

“Liberty has never come from the government. Liberty has always come from the subjects of it. The history of liberty is a history of resistance.”
–Woodrow Wilson

“They who can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety.”
–Benjamin Franklin

“The advancement and diffusion of knowledge is the only guardian of true liberty.”
–James Madison

“I prefer liberty with danger than peace with slavery.”
Jean-Jacques Rousseau

“If you’re not ready to die for it, put the word ‘freedom’ out of your vocabulary.”
–Malcolm X

If we don’t hold onto the freedoms and traditions we have been given, they will slowly be taken away. Like cooking a frog in a pot, it won’t jump out of the pot if the water warms slowly. Our environment in the US these days is a lot like the pot…

Happy 238th America!

Happy Independence Day folks! Yes, today, July 4 is America’s 238th birthday. What a 238 years it has been, right? I mean we have come a long way from those days of white wigs and scraping a living out of the “wild and unsettled” lands. It hasn’t been all fun and games though. There has been some yelling, throwing of things, fighting, trials and disagreements and yet we endure. That is something to celebrate!

Today we pause to blow stuff up, eat pounds of dead meat all while throwing back some hop infused  beverages. We love a good party and today we are gonna do it up right! But before you head out to the backyard, the lake, the camp ground, or the big city for a show of bright flashes and big bangs maybe you should take some time to REALLY remember why we celebrate today. It isn’t just another day off from work, some guys way back at the beginning put their “lives, fortunes, and honor” on the table and at risk for all to enjoy. We owe it to them to at least pause for a few and reconnect to the true holiday we celebrate.

For your reading pleasure, the Declaration of Independence. (You know, there are some who might argue that this document still might apply today.)

If you are interested, here is some reading that could remind you of those days back when you were in school and were learning about the reasons we have a nation today and decided to cut ties with that tyrannical British king, George III.  History lesson and quiz.

Regardless of where you think we stand as a nation today, whether you agree with the direction we are headed (or not headed) or whether you are red or blue or purple(?), we are still the place that others look to for hope, freedom, and help when there is trouble in their neighborhood. Let’s not forget this is still the best place to live in the world because we have many of the freedoms that others do not.

America. Happy birthday!