03 July 2011

Monday Musings on America's Birthday...
Today, America turns 235 years old...
America, "The Great Experiment" as it was once called. If you're ready for some "history", then buckle up, 'cause we're setting the WAY-BACK machine to that all-imporatnt date in America.
*** Back in 1776, this day was the date on which the DECLARATION OF INDEPENDENCE was adopted by our fledgling "government", otherwise known as "those wonderfully rebellious band of traitors to the Crown".
It was drafted between 11 June and 28 June by Thomas Jefferson, and is his most enduring legacy to this nation.
The political philosophy of the Declaration was not new; its ideals of individual liberty had already been expressed by John Locke and the Continental philosophers.
What Jefferson did was to summarize this philosophy in "self-evident truths" and set forth a list of grievances against the King in order to justify before the world the breaking of ties between the colonies and the mother country.
It was a bold (and some argued at the time), a reckless move, but there were those that KNEW this had to be done.
This document was ONLY the beginning of the battle FOR independence, and NOT the end of it.
It would take years of war between the colonies AND the British to allow this declaration to become effective and worthy of respect by those wanting to keep America under British rule.
Actually, the FINAL hostilities of the Revolutionary War occurred in 1783 and soon after the last British troops left New York City. The entire TIMELINE for America's Revolution can be found here:
Interestingly enough, considering the manner in which "word got around", as well as the TIME involved in getting such information to others, the Declaration of Independence was FIRST READ PUBLICLY on 8 July, 1776...a mere FOUR days after it's adoption.
Goes to show that even printing presses of THOSE days can accomplish small miracles.
*** Now, growing up in Philly, I often visited Independence Hall downtown - the entire area is a historical park...only one I know of in a DOWNTOWN locale of a major city.
Actually got to see the Liberty Bell up close and personal LONG before they moved it into that special pavilion away from it's original location.
Of course, in THOSE days, our schools thought that field trips to our wonderfully-preserved HISTORICAL SITES merited frequent visits...to allow us all the chance to revisit much of what made this nation in the first place.
Then again, we also saluted the flag and would recite the Pledge of Allegiance (to the proudly displayed FLAG in the rooms) EVERY morning in class.
Wonder how much of that is STILL done these days?
To visit downtown and walk in the same buildings and upon the same floors as our founders never had the impact THEN that it does for me today.
Then, it was a day out of class to see some "old stuff"...we didn't appreciate it near as much as I do these days.
I was fortunate enough to walk in many of the steps of Washington, Adams, Franklin, Hancock, Jefferson, and so on...
Makes me wish I was older when I did so, and took a camera with me, instead of lunch money.
Anyone that has the chance to spend some time in those halls of freedom, should do so.
If you're lucky enough, you might even "bump" into Ben Franklin, walking the streets (I always liked that guy...dressed and talked the part ALL too well). This man who portrayed Franklin knew his stuff, and made history come alive.
*** Anyway, back to the 4th of July...
Like I said, this was the START of our battle for freedom, and many times, even our leaders had to pause and wonder if it might still be worth it, after losing battles and cities to the Brits.
But, with this new-found American Spirit, they all persevered, and in the final result, deemed this nation as one independent from outside rulership.
We were now "on our own", as it were...
Talk about a real "Okay, we won...NOW what do we do?" moment.
Well, we all know that cooler heads prevailed and that our Declaration was the cornerstone to the rest of our founding documents, not the least of which was our Constitution (1787).
Still, it wasn't all smooth sailing...we had people wanting a return (or a continuation) of the type of rule we had under the Crown...(damn loyalists), we had others who had little faith in our new leaders, and some just wanting to start trouble for no damn reason at all.
For the full description of the Declaration, here's the WIKI:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_States_Declaration_of_Independence#TextI I will include the first two sections, because they are usually the most attributed and most well-known.
(( When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature's God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.
--We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.
That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.
Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed.
But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.
Jefferson did have a way with the written word, did he not?
Yet, had it NOT been for the oratory of John Adams, it might have all ended there.
Adams was a champion of separation from England and the fiercest advocate of Jefferson’s declaration.
Without his persuasive speeches in the Philadelphia chamber, the document wouldn’t have been signed.
While Jefferson was silent during what he considered the convention’s editorial debasement of his work, Adams defended every clause, including an excised call for the abolition of slavery. Jefferson called Adams “a colossus on the floor” of the Congress.
And those words still echo TODAY, as we celebrate the 235th birthday of OUR NATION.
For the lowdown of what today means (to those that understand what was done and what was sacrificed to bring it all to being), here's the WIKI link:
We all comprehend what is meant by celebration...some more than others, obviously.
But when it becomes ALL about "having fun", we need to back up and think about WHY we're able to do so.
The first celebrations were held in much higher esteem, with a lot less "frivolity" than we display these days.
-On the first anniversary of America's independence, THIRTEEN guns were fired...at both dawn and dusk...period.
That was done in Rhode Island.
-Philadelphia celebrated the first anniversary in a manner a modern American would find quite familiar: an official dinner for the Continental Congress, toasts, 13-gun salutes, speeches, prayers, music, parades, troop reviews, and fireworks. Ships were decked with red, white, and blue bunting.
In 1778, General George Washington marked July 4 with a double ration of rum for his soldiers and an artillery salute. Across the Atlantic Ocean, ambassadors John Adams and Benjamin Franklin held a dinner for their fellow Americans in Paris, France.
And so on, down through history we went...marking this day as one of the pivotal points in America, if not THE most important one.
Military bases perform a "salute to the union", promptly at 1200 hours, consisting of a FIFTY-GUN salute (one for each state).
And yet, every year, everyone tries to outdo one another when it comes to fireworks...
Usually it's one city that has the BIGGEST YET display, or some idiot on your street that is the CLARK GRISWOLD of store-bought PYROTECHNICS, and isn't happy until everyone has bleeding ears and burnt houses.
The spirit of the day gets lost easily under such auspices.
This is one IMPORTANT day in our history.
And it should be honored that way, but then again, I'm such a traditionalist.
It would be nice for the idiots to even recognize that if it were NOT for our independence, they wouldn't have the chance to act as STUPID as they do (making the rest of us look so much smarter, I might add...thanks, morons).
This day took place for EVERYONE all those years ago...not for some, but ALL Americans.
Today, we face challenges we've yet to fully comprehend, let alone know the proper method to find solutions.
Can we say with conviction that we CAN still be UP TO THE TASK of solving our problems and getting this nation back onto solid ground, much like our founders believed when they climbed way out on a limb for the chance at freedom and liberty?
I think we can...and are...we have to be, if for no other reason, than the fact that we ARE Americans all.
It worked back then, and I think it will STILL work for us today.
All we have to do is believe and trust in divine providence to motivate ourselves.
Therein lies the lesson for today.
Have yourselves a very happy 4th of July, and remember WHY we celebrate.
Be well, make a difference to someone, and...
Stay safe out there, America.
(Btw, you don't look all that bad for being 235 years old)


CWMartin said...

Bobby, have a good fourth, man!

Bob G. said...

I (and the missus) will do our level best to keep in the spirit of the holiday, my friend.

(plus...they have a FIREFLY marathon on Science Channel...lol)

Have yourselves a great Independence Day as well.

Stay safe up there.

Momma Fargo said...

Awesome history refresher. Happy Fourth!

Bob G. said...

Momma fargo:
Well, it's not guys with BIG guns and oakleys yanking trees around...just a bunch of thinner guys in crazy hair with a lot smaller guns (mostly rifles & muskets) yankng themselves free from tyranny.

I'm glad you liked it.
It was my honor to bring it to you.

Thanks fot taking time today to swing on by and comment.

Roll safe out there.