Today is the Fourth of July. A happy day of celebration for most Americans; a holiday where most workers are paid to take a day of rest and recreation. And a day of fun, festivity, barbeques, and parades. The laughter of children will ring out over this entire country, and millions of flags displaying our colors of red, white, and blue will fly high in the breezes. Bands with loud and spritely marching music will serenade our streets, followed by brilliantly decorated floats carrying beautiful young girls waving majestically to the crowds before them. Strong and handsome horses, their tack and saddles covered in bright ribbons and streamers, will prance down those same streets, occasionally leaving behind little gifts to remind people they were there.
When the parades are over, people will leave quickly to go to the barbeques they are having, with friends, family, and neighbors. Millions of hot dogs will be gobbled down this day, thousands of pounds of potato salad will be eaten, and millions of bottles of beer and soda pop will be drunk. When the barbeques are over, the bands' instruments put away, the floats dismantled, and the horses bedded down, everyone will go to bed happy, full, and satisfied to wake up the next morning to "just another day."
Is that ALL the Fourth of July is? How many Americans remember just WHAT this day represents?
The year is 1775. The British domination of the thirteen original colonies of the United States was becoming unbearable. British armies were being amassed throughout the countryside, British navies hovered off-shore.
On March 23rd, 1775, Patrick Henry stood before the House of Commons and delivered his famous and impassioned speech about fighting for freedom before every man, woman, and child should lay supine upon the floor with a British soldier standing nearby. His last words of that speech should never be forgotten by any American anywhere:
I know not what course others may take, but as for me, give me liberty or give me death.
On April 18th, 1775, Paul Revere, not a fighter but a man of humble upbringing, a silversmith and an artist, was riding his horse about 11 o'clock at night towards Cambridge, when he was briefly accosted by two British soldiers. He saw what he believed...correctly...to be troops in the distance. He turned his horse and galloped away back toward Lexington and Colonel John Hancock. Shortly before midnight, he burst into their camp with the news that the British were camped near Cambridge and he believed them to be on the march towards Lexington.
The story that he came galloping down the road shouting "The British are coming, the British are coming" is an historical myth.
It is true that shortly after that night, there was a confrontation between British and American troops near Lexington, where at one point they simply seemed to stand and stare at each other, rather than fighting. Then a single shot rang out. History has it that no one seems to know if it was a British or an American who fired that shot, but it has become known as "the shot heard 'round the world," as full blown hostilities began between British and American troops at that point.
On July 4, 1776, a draft of what was later adopted as the Official Declaration of Independence from Great Britian was read by Thomas Jefferson, who wrote it. The most famous words of that Declaration are as follows, and should be taught in our schools and remembered by every American now and in the future:
We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness.
This declaration was not signed by anyone on that specific day except for John Hancock, who signed his name with such a flourish that it was 5 inches long, and has become an informal synonym for "signature."
The original thirteen colonies of the US, created and ruled by Britain to establish their priorities in the US, signed that Declaration of Independence and officially declared themselves free and above the domination of Great Britain and her King. These colonies were the states of Connecticut, Delaware, Georgia, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, South Carolina, Pennsylvannia, Rhode Island, and Virginia.
As Americans, let us truly remember just what the Fourth of July is, the sacrifices made in order for us to celebrate that day, and let us bring forth our happiness NOT just for the local barbeque, but because, thanks to our Forefathers, we have the right to Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness.
Until next time,
Happy Fourth of July!
That's a wrap.