Every July 4th, we take some time to spend with our families. We enjoy fireworks, cook-outs, swimming pools, and did I mention fireworks? Yes, twice because I am guy and I could sit there for hours like a child, watching things explode.Yup, simple creature. But let’s talk about whats really important. Why does the fourth of July really mean so much for us?
It’s not just because for some of us it’s a day off from work. It’s not just time spent with family. It’s is not entirely about the birth of our country. We all have reasons why we celebrate today. Put those aside for a minute and look at what we are told about the American Revolutionary War. Everyone learns at least in passing about Concord, Bunker Hill and Valley Forge. We revel in the hard fought glory that our ancestors earned at great cost and with their lives. Sure we have to remember all of that. But there is so much more that we have to be proud of.
How about the fact that thirteen independent colonies stood together and said that an attack against one is an attack against all. Think of all of the great men, some with doubt gnawing at their souls, gathered together to draft a statement declaring our independence treasonous enough to have them all hanged. These are great things worthy of more than just a passing examination in a grade-school history class. How many people know that at Valley Forge General Washington had surgeons use the then controversial tactic of vaccination to save his army from smallpox? Who can tell you the name of the Irish marksman who served under Daniel Morgan that killed British General Fraser and caused the British offensive top fall apart during the Battle of Bemis Heights. Who can tell you about the politics involved in keeping the colonies and the army together? Who can speak to the division between citizens who were loyalists and those who wanted independence.
There is so much to now about the events before and after this day that led to the birth of our nation. But let’s keep it simple. A long time ago, a group of people were not happy with their circumstances. They were tired of being subjects, unfairly treated ones at that. They felt that their blood, sweat and sacrifice to carve out a life here should count for something. They dared to dream of a place where no one would be their lord. Where no one would tell them how to live. These sometimes outnumbered and almost always outgunned amateurs showed the world how great they could be. They were the very spirit of the underdog. And they pulled it off through perseverance, sacrifice, honor and at times sheer guts.
Who does not admire that? So for at least today put everything else aside and just be an American. Forget politics, philosophy and all that other stuff that divides us. Today just be an American. And be proud to be living in a country born upon the backs and lives of those whom wanted something more for themselves and their children.
Now go get your hot dog on……and don’t forget those fireworks.