2007-07-05 / View From the Middle

View From The Middle

Good Reasons For Celebration: Then And Now
By Charles Rogers

By Charles Rogers

Hope you had a nice Fourth of July holiday. I don't want to sound too academic at this figurative beginning of summer and vacations, etc., but I hope also that, while you were cooking those hot dogs and chicken wings and tossing the salad, maybe a squeaker of a thought of why the holiday is celebrated might have popped into your mind.

No?

Well, that's all right too. You can't deny, however, that, even as you watched the fireworks, there might have been a tiny shiver of patriotism running through your veins. Just a shiver's worth.

Can you imagine just what those first immigrants (now we're talkin' IMMIGRANTS!) were like? They were radicals of the highest measure. Not just hippies, of course, but close! Bohemians, for all intents and purposes. They didn't like what was going on. They knew there had to be a better way of doing things and, rather than live under the rule of a king, they'd just as well take off and start their own country; their own way of life, figuring that, well, they were God-fearing people who were on the side of right. How could there be anything wrong with that?

How courageous these people had to be! When the Pilgrims arrived here, they had nothing. Nothing. They set to building log cabins and primitive homes, while fighting everything from Indians to nature. Finally, a century and a half later, after they built colonies and established families and schools and houses of worship and turning the primitive homes into fine structures, they decided to sever all ties to the motherland.

I am still amazed at the guts these people had. At the risk of sounding like a second grade schoolteacher, the courage and fortitude to try this "new" form of government called democracy, where they would actually have people from the areas where they live represent them in a centralized unit, is astounding.

And when it was discovered that the country they were breaking from was going to use arms to prevent this uprising, they said, "No! We'll fight for our own privileges; for our own right to live as we please - or we'll die trying."

Now that's what I call having faith in your beliefs! There are courageous people…and then there are courageous people! No pretentiousness here. No flag-waving. Not yet, anyway. Not even a thought of patriotism at this point. It was a time for standing up for what is rightfully yours; for the fundamentals of life. Remember, they did it correctly - even wrote up Articles of Confederation and, what do you know? They also wrote a Declaration of Independence. They'd already formed an assembly they called the Continental Congress, which essentially voted on matters important to the colonies.

Now they had Thomas Jefferson, who was known to be an author of sorts, draft this declaration that said they did not have to cower or be beholden to one person, whether a king or queen or emperor or dictator. They would govern themselves.

Jefferson hied himself to a small hotel and wrote a large list of grievances, including the protestation of taxes without proper representation and cutting off trade with other countries. He took only about three weeks to get the declaration finished and brought it to the Continental Congress for corrections, additions and omissions. Finally, it was signed by 56 people, the representative leaders from the thirteen colonies. And they dated it July 4, 1776. Two hundred and thirty one years ago. Just imagine it. Picture it in your mind. They started a country.

My God! They started a new country!

Please read the final paragraph of this declaration that says the country would, from this day forward, be free and independent. Please read it:

"We, therefore, the Representatives of the United States of America, in General Congress, Assembled, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of our intentions, do, in thy Name, and by authority of the good People of these Colonies, solemnly publish and declare, that these united Colonies are, and of Right ought to be Free and Independent States, that they are absolved from all allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political connection between them and the State of Great Britain, is and ought to be totally dissolved; and that as Free and Independent States, they have full Power to levy war, conclude peace contract Alliances, establish Commerce, and to do all other Acts and Things which independent states may of right do. - And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of Divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes and our sacred Honor."

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