What I have learned about tomorrow’s holiday.
Well, tomorrow is July 4. Independence Day. What do we do on this day? We have picnics. We watch fireworks. Some people work, some stay at home and sleep. For most people, the day is like any other. But is it?
Somewhere around 230 or so years ago, A group of distinguished gentlemen including Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Franklin, John Hancock and a couple of noted future presidents, put their signatures on a very important document….The Declaration of Independence.
Our country was owned and directed by Great Britian and we were under the laws of the king, at the time George the 3rd, who taxed the colonists, but gave them no rights or voice as citizens. The taxing of imported tea led to the Boston Tea Party in 1773. London responded by putting Thomas Gage in charge as governor of the colonies. The local militia, known as ‘Minutemen’ confronted British troops and this led to the Revolutionary War.
45% of the colonists supported the rebellion, while 15-20% stayed loyal to the Crown. African-Americans, both slave and free, served on both sides. George Washington lifted the ban on Blacks serving in the military and as a result, 3,000 freedmen were relocated to Nova Scotia, while others were sent to the West Indies, Great Britian or the Caribbean Islands.
For 9 long years the fighting raged on, taking 217,000 lives.
We all know from history class that Francis Scott Key wrote our National Anthem, the Star-Spangled Banner, sung at every public 4th of July celebration. A Maryland lawyer, Key got permission from president James Madison to negotiate the return of an imprisoned friend, kept on a British flagship that was awaiting orders to attack Fort McHenry (which was the Battle of Baltimore) the British agreed to let the friend go, but detained Key for the duration of the battle. During his incarceration, he describes the battle as he is witnessing it; The rocket’s red glare, the bombs bursting in air. But when dawn approached and the sun rose, he could see that our flag still flew majestically over the city, despite its ragged appearance.
Of course we won that war and what we celebrate, or we should remember, is the 217,000 lives lost and many others wounded, fighting to give us what we have today: freedom.
I try to remember this every 4th of July as I watch the colorful displays light up the sky. My life is mine to lead, thanks to early Americans who said, “no more kings! We should have the right to govern ourselves!” And so we do.
GOD BLESS AMERICA, LAND OF THE FREE AND HOME OF THE BRAVE!