Thursday, July 4, 2013

Independence Day

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"The Second Day of July 1776, will be the most memorable Epocha, in the History of America. I am apt to believe that it will be celebrated, by succeeding Generations, as the great anniversary Festival. It ought to be commemorated, as the Day of Deliverance by solemn Acts of Devotion to God Almighty. It ought to be solemnized with Pomp and Parade, with Shews, Games, Sports, Guns, Bells, Bonfires and Illuminations from one End of this Continent to the other from this Time forward forever more. You will think me transported with Enthusiasm but I am not. I am well aware of the Toil and Blood and Treasure, that it will cost Us to maintain this Declaration, and support and defend these States. Yet through all the Gloom I can see the Rays of ravishing Light and Glory. I can see that the End is more than worth all the Means. And that Posterity will tryumph in that Days Transaction, even altho We should rue it, which I trust in God We shall not."
- John Adams July 3, 1776

The signing of the Declaration of Independence was no easy thing.  We think of ourselves as Americans now, but 237 years ago, to even talk of such a thing as a separate American nation, an independent union of states, was treason.  We may "hold these truths to be self-evident," but King George certainly did not, and while this important document means liberty to us, to England and those people in the colonies still loyal to the King, it meant insurrection.  There were colonies, such as New York and Pennsylvania, that were reluctant to endorse such an act, for just as John Adams correctly predicted victory and celebrations, he and the other delegates realized it would be born of war, of blood, of sacrifices great and personal.  Benjamin Franklin's own son William, the  royal governor of New Jersey, remained loyal to the crown.  He was imprisoned, and eventually exiled.  John Adams sacrificed years of life as a husband and father in exchange for service to a young nation.  Fortunes and reputations were risked, and young men died defending their homeland from other young men whom had presently been fellow countrymen.  To live in peace, there must be war.
As the declaration reads, "governments are instituted among men, deriving their just powers from the governed, that when ever any form of government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the right of the people to abolish it, and to institute new government."  It seems like such a simple idea, and yet it was, indeed, revolutionary.  If the king would continue to abuse his subjects, if the colonies would get no representation in the mother country, then the people would renounce the government and govern themselves.  It's one thing to declare it, but now there was the act of becoming a traitor in order to become a patriot, of standing up to the world's most professional army with militias composed of farmers and children.  There would be seven years of conflict, uneasy alliances, and the struggle to decide what kind of nation we would become.  There were hard-won victories at the crossing of the Delaware River and at Yorktown, but at the end of the war, Great Britain still had some 25,000 or more troops occupying New York, Charleston, and Savannah. Due to a lack of support for the war back in England and a war on several fronts with France, Spain, and the Dutch, the British troops ceased hostilities, and the war ended in 1783, beginning an era of peace and prosperity.  Truly, Independence Day is a day that should be celebrated, and I join the rest of my countrymen in that celebration with hot dogs and fireworks and patriotic pride.  I also reflect on the great sacrifice of our men and women who fought and won that freedom, the men who drafted our great documents, the traitors who would become patriots, and the people today who are willing to defy tyrants and stand for liberty.  Happy Fourth of July America, and may God bless us with peace and prosperity as we strive to uphold the ideals of this nation as put forth by our founders and defended  by our minutemen.
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