A beacon of freedom
It’s hard to believe that summer is half over and we are getting ready to celebrate the big Fourth of July weekend. Certainly it’s a time for enjoying the outdoors, patriotic music, picnics and many fireworks displays.
Every school child knows the Fourth of July is an observance of our Declaration of Independence from England. Actually, the Continental Congress reached agreement on July 2, and it was officially signed on July 4.
I have often wondered what the original signers would think about the United States today. I’m sure they would be impressed. The United States has been a beacon of freedom for more than two centuries.
It’s interesting to think about the challenges the infant nation faced. First, it had to win a military victory against Great Britain. The nation faced an experienced and trained national army. We countered with an inexperienced, but dedicated, group of volunteers. They were led by General George Washington who had limited military experience. They faced extreme hardship due to a lack of funds and equipment. Yet Washington was able to hold his rag-tag army together, defeat the British and win our freedom.
I have read most of Europe believed the common man was unable to govern himself. Yet the brilliant men of that time experimented, fought each other and came up with the Constitution.
Oh, sure, the Constitution has changed over the decades, but it remains a unique concept. At the time it was written, all the rest of the world was governed by royal families. The common individual had only the rights that the crown granted. In our case, we were given written guarantees of personal independence. We have changed the Constitution many times, and it remains a living document that adapts as needs change and knowledge expands.
The founding fathers spent a great deal of time debating and arguing over the final draft. Some of the arguments seemed trivial by today’s standards. We believe everyone should have the right to vote and not just property owners and men. I will never understand why they embraced the evil concept of slavery. It would be another 70 years and loss of life in a civil war to right the wrong. Even after that, it was a century before real progress was made in race relations.
The first Fourth of July celebration was in 1777 when the war was going badly for the continental army. Even though there were losses, they believed in the success of their cause. In fact, the Fourth of July was celebrated every year during the Revolutionary War.
The problems for the struggling nation didn’t end with the victory against Britain. The first task they faced was establishing a stable government. Certainly this was an arduous chore, yet they argued, fumed, fussed and cussed and compromised until agreement was reached.
The United States has grown from a fledging and fragmented wilderness to a modern and complex society. We have been a nation of immigrants, too.
My ancestry came from England, Scotland, Switzerland and Germany. My wife is of Swedish and German/Russian heritage. Her grandparents arrived in the USA penniless and virtually shoeless. They were able to find work and ultimately became successful farmers.
I am proud to be an American, and I am fortunate that my grandparents chose to come here. We have so many freedoms, and we should feel blessed and more determined than ever to maintain our freedom. At present, we are going through a trying stage of our history, and as we have done before, we will succeed.
Please have a safe and happy Fourth of July. While you are enjoying your festivities,A group of youths play water basketball as a fun summer activity to keep cool as temperatures rise. take a moment to count your blessings and be thankful that you are American. God bless the USA.