HAPPY FOURTH OF JULY
- From: jose <josefsoplar@xxxxxxxxx>
- Date: Wed, 04 Jul 2007 09:20:54 -0700
HAPPY FOURTH OF JULY
ARE WE FIT TO BE FREE?
By: Phil Brennan
"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 (The Book of Abigail and John: Selected Letters
of the Adams Family, 1762-1784, Harvard University Press, 1975,
Today we tend to think of the Fourth of July as a day off from work,
an occasion for shooting off fireworks, having a backyard barbecue, or
climbing in our cars and visiting distant friends and relatives.
Hardly anybody harks back to that momentous day, what it meant, or how
it affects us down to this very day.
What we mark on July Fourth is the signing of the Declaration of
Independence, an astonishing event when a handful of men of different
backgrounds and different colonies with no organized armed force at
their disposal, came together and wrote a document that in effect,
told the mighty British empire to bug off and leave them and their
It was what must be seen as a foolhardy act. They defied a monarch and
his government with the finest and most powerful army on the face of
the earth, knowing full well what the consequences would be if they
failed in achieving independence from Britain. With Adams they
understood the "Toil and Blood and Treasure," it would cost them "to
maintain this Declaration, and support and defend these States. "
They had no army of their own, only poorly armed, trained, and
equipped local militias. No consensus among the people of the various
colonies as to the wisdom of their act, and no national treasury to
draw upon to finance an armed struggle. It was truly a case of David
vs. Goliath - except in his case at least David had a sling shot and
only a single foe.
As they foresaw, the might of the British empire came crashing down on
them and for six long years the forces under General George Washington
bled and died in a long series of disheartening defeats.
The colonialists were by no means united. A large number, the so-
called Tories , backed the British crown. When New York and
Philadelphia, were occupied by the British army, some of the more
elite residents fell all over themselves to ingratiate themselves with
to Redcoat officers, bowing and scraping before them and entertaining
In the South, a brutally vicious civil war that laid waste vast areas
erupted between the supporters of the revolution and those people
loyal to the Crown.
Many of those who supported the revolution paid dearly, yet they
remained steadfast throughout those dismal years and to them we owe an
enormous debt. Without their courage and endurance, we'd still be
residents of the 13 British colonies.
Between 1775 and 1783, about 8000 members of Washington's army died in
combat and another 17,000 died from starvation, disease and other
causes. At the time, those deaths represented a measurable part of the
total population. It was a high price to pay for independence - and an
uncertain future. At its end American was still divided along the
lines of the British colonial system. America was by no means a
nation, and it would take a long time, and a terrible civil war, for
it to truly become one.
But they were free to decide their future for themselves. What they
decided would be what America would become. Never in the entire
world's history had a citizenry attained the power to govern
themselves. It was a revolutionary idea. And it worked.
That's what the Fourth of July is all about. It sparked a war that
ended in a spectacular victory of what Kenneth Roberts admiringly
called a "Rabble in Arms" over a superbly trained battle hardened
army, a long struggle to construct a government of the people, by the
people and for the people as Lincoln would put it, and to put aside
local allegiances and attain a national identity.
It's important that we recognize all this before we start celebrating
a holiday that means a lot more than fireworks and barbecues. What
those men did in Philadelphia on July 2nd, 1776 gave us the most
precious gift they had to give us, and one we would have to earn over
and over again, liberty! It was just the beginning. And it's still
On the Fourth of July we need to answer once again in word and in deed
the age-old question the people answered then: are we fit to be free?
They answered it by putting their lives and the fortunes on the line.
They risked everything to win for us the gift they left us. We owe it
to them to follow their example.
As John Adams put it - it should be "commemorated, as the Day of
Deliverance by solemn Acts of Devotion to God Almighty."
Happy Fourth of July.
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