Tag Archive | "Independence Day"

Independence Day, The Fourth of July

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In the 1996 blockbuster Independence Day, Earth is invaded by aliens with intent to exterminate all mankind.  The United States, devastated by the destruction of its major cities and death of most of its leaders, plans and coordinates a global counter-attack as a last ditch effort to destroy the alien invaders.  The counter-attack occurs on July 4th, Independence Day.

 

In a stirring speech to the ragtag group of pilots – both military and civilian – that are to carry out the American component of the mission, the President – portrayed by Bill Pullman – inspires the troops with the following words:

 

“Perhaps it’s fate that today is July the Fourth, and you will once again fight for our freedom.  Not from tyranny, persecution or oppression.  But from annihilation.  We’re fighting for our right to live, to exist.  And should we win the day, the fourth of July will no longer be remembered as an American holiday but as the day that all of mankind declared we will not go quietly into the night.  We will not vanish without a fight.  We’re going to live on.  We’re going to survive.  Today, we declare our Independence Day.”

 

Of course, the American offensive is successful and demonstrates to the rest of the world how to defeat the aliens.  In a spectacular “Hollywood ending,” fireworks streak through the sky as the debris from the exploded Mother Ship enters the atmosphere like thousands of shooting stars.

 

The film, whose title is eponymous with the American holiday commemorating the adoption of our Declaration of Independence from England, celebrates freedom – in this instance, freedom from annihilation by malevolent alien beings.  And, freedom is a state of being to which all humankind aspires.  This is just as true in 2012 as it was in 1776.

 

236 years after our American Revolution, much of the world finds itself in the midst of cultural and political revolutions.  In the 23 years following the Tiananmen Square protests, China has witnessed a wave of personal entrepreneurship that continues to grow unabated and has become the driving force in its economy.  Subsequent to the dissolution of the former Soviet Union, Russia and most of the former Soviet bloc states have embraced democratic principles that have defied recidivism to their authoritarian roots despite economic hardships and uncertainties.

 

And, most recently, the Arab Spring has dramatically changed the face of the Middle East.  Since its inception in December 2010, this revolutionary wave has displaced longstanding leaders in Tunisia, Libya, Yemen, and Egypt.  Civil uprisings have erupted in Syria and Bahrain, along with major protests in Algeria, Iraq, Jordan, Kuwait, and Morocco.  Minor protests have occurred in Arab states including Lebanon, Mauritania, Oman, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, Western Sahara, and Iran.

 

It appears that in every part of the world, people yearn for freedom and self-determination.  But, in words attributed to Thomas Jefferson, “the price of freedom is eternal vigilance.”  And so, as people in most of the rest of the world gain more freedom, Americans must remain on guard against infringements on the freedoms we have historically held dear.

 

As was proved by the Supreme Court decision of last week that upheld the Constitutionality of President Obama’s Affordable Healthcare Act – otherwise known as Obamacare, our growing federal government can now mandate how citizens spend their money – penalizing those who do not comply.  When considered along with continuing efforts by some in our federal government to limit the right of our citizens to bear arms and the confiscatory nature of our federal and state systems of taxation, Americans should remain cognizant of how rapidly concerns for security can slide down the slippery slope to tyranny.

 

So, as you enjoy a day off from work, perhaps a family barbecue, and a fireworks display, think about what freedom means to you and remain vigilant in its defense.

 

 

 

Whatever Happened to our Independence?

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Here we are once again: awaiting the day that we have marked to celebrate our independence from England through the birth of a new nation in 1776.


To most Americans, Independence Day is ushered in with picnics, cookouts, or visits to the seashore or mountains.  Whether in a park, on a city balcony, or from our TV screens, most of us will view the fireworks displays as the day’s culmination.  But in celebrating the Fourth of July, how independent are we, truly, as a people and a nation?


In 1776, the people and nation experienced the dream of being set free from tyranny (taxation without representation in England’s Parliament).  This was an era when men and women were responsible for carving out their own destinies.  Then, America was wide open, a vast and as yet largely unexplored land holding the promise of unlimited opportunities.


From the wilderness, pioneers created log cabin homes, farms, and eventually, towns and cities.  Basically, these hardy, brave settlers lived off the land for food, shelter, and clothing, with the raw materials supplied by Mother Nature.  Those were the days when we were truly independent.


Two hundred and thirty five years later (the year 2011), how things have changed!  America no longer has the unencumbered opportunity and land to equate to true independence. Government, major financial institutions, and legislation have all changed the true meaning of independence.


True home ownership will never exist in the land of the free and the home of the brave, because such undertakings are encumbered by taxation and interest charges. One would think that the freedom for which we fought as a new nation would protect honest homeowners from such situations.  These situations include the Sword of Damocles known as potential loss of home due to a recession that is, in actuality, a lot closer to an actual depression.  So much for the time-honored cliché, “A man’s home is his castle.”  Or a woman’s, for that matter.


Since the birth of this nation, government has manipulated laws and taxation to created dynasties; they’ve dubbed these dynasties “Departments.”  Each Department has a Head as well as lots of staff whose salaries and perks have added to our country’s financial woes.  The taxation that we viewed as unjust, the taxation that stimulated the birth of the United States of America, has now become stifling to our independence.  We have, you see, become more and more dependent for our very existence upon our ever-ravenous, tax-siphoning government. 


On July 4th, 2011, as we watch the display of fireworks and other entertainment in Washington DC, try not to choke on your hot dog or hamburger when they hand you the bill.  What bill?  Why, the one that will incur more taxes for average citizens due to the cost of the DC celebrations, of course!


How strange and unjust and plain insane is it, to view such costly festivities on national TV, including patriotic songs, Old Glory waving proudly, and “bombs bursting in air” in a country that is going broke?  When you have the answer to that, you’ll also have the answer to the question, “Whatever happened to our independence?” 


Independence Day

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I’ll bet I know what you’ll be doing this Fourth of July.  You’ll be at a barbecue, either in your back yard or that of a loved one or a friend.  You’ll be noshing on hot dogs and hamburgers, swilling down a cool brew or two.  You’ll tell a few jokes, laugh at others, and slurp some sweet, juicy watermelon. Finally, you’ll settle in as the sun sinks low to enjoy a dramatic fireworks display.  A moment before those bombs go “bursting in air,” I invite you to do something a bit different this Fourth.  I invite you to meditate upon the true meaning of the holiday and its place in all of our lives.


In Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, on July 4, 1776, representatives from the thirteen original colonies gathered to sign the Declaration of Independence.  Based upon the conviction that all men are created equal and that those men — and women — must have a voice in how they are governed, the infant nation of America was formed.  Our Founding Fathers had taken a stand, and a gigantic leap of faith, in breaking away from England in order to enjoy the freedoms they’d deemed God-given, freedoms for which they, and many others, fought hard.


Since that first Independence Day, this country has seen many wars, too many.  But, we have also seen enormous achievements and great prosperity.  From sea to shining sea, our nation has been blessed by an abundance of resources and the most beautiful and diverse natural “architecture” the world over.  You create what you envision, and so, the concept of Manifest Destiny birthed wagon trains rumbling over our fruited plains, wagon trains laden with brave and hearty pioneers.  Headed into a great unknown, the pioneers were driven solely by their indomitable spirit and the desire to make better lives for themselves and their families. From the forests, the streams and lakes, and the plains, those pioneers carved outposts and farms that bloomed into towns, cities, and eventually, States.  Now fifty in number, each bright star on our flag symbolizes one of our States.  Together, those fifty States forged a large, strong, and proud nation.


History repeats itself, indeed.  We patterned our Constitution, indeed our nation, upon that of France, which had liberated herself from the tyranny of a government that cared not a whit for its people.  However, the emergence of our nation also mimicked that of another country, or rather, an empire.


The Roman Empire was the superpower of its day.   Rich in culture, art, and monetary means and bolstered by a strong army that conquered outlying lands, ancient Rome’s arms stretched deeply into Mesopotamia (the Middle East) and as far as what is now the United Kingdom.  An Emperor presided over this vast and mighty realm, much as our own President heads the U.S. today, and her government boasted a Senate: an official forum in which representatives from Rome’s various city-states determined how their government operated.  The government was Imperial in nature but built upon a Republic whose core principle was, “of the people, by the people, and for the people.”  This form of government set the standard for future governments the world over.  But despite all her glory, the Roman Empire only survived for approximately 300 years.


Scholars and historians attribute the fall of the Roman Empire to the social, economic, and military changes taking place within her.  Other contributing factors were the moral decay of her people as well as governmental officials whose attitude had become self-serving, downright cruel, and even psychotic (i.e. Nero and Caligula).  Does any of this ring a bell with you — as in the Liberty Bell?  Does it sound at all like the America in which we now live?  Our government has been in existence for 234 years.  Where are we headed in the next 66?


This Fourth of July, as you thrill to the fireballs bursting brilliantly in the sky, you may well consider how many more Fourths you, and your children, and your grandchildren, will spend in this manner, with something to celebrate, something uniquely American.  Consider whether or not you wish to revive the spirit of our Founding Fathers and the pioneers who followed them, driven by their independence, vision, and gumption.  Do you wish to take a stand in how our government is run, or are you content with the status quo?   Do you want this nation to continue, and to flourish, despite the tough times we have faced in recent years?  Or will you watch as we crumble into dust like the Roman Empire?

Reflections on Independence Day

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Fireworks

July 4, 2009 marks the 233rd anniversary of the signing of the Declaration of Independence, thus establishing the United States of America as a new nation.  The reason that the Thirteen Colonies determined to separate from the mother country was widespread disagreement with Great Britain’s “taxation without representation,” the practice of taxing the colonists without granting them a voice in Parliament.  Our Founding Fathers reacted to this tyranny with the first peaceful, anti-government demonstration conducted upon these shores.  Dumping carton after carton of tea (a major staple for the colonists) into the Boston Harbor in protest of taxes, the protestors took part in what came to be known as the Boston Tea Party.  The rest is history.

 

233 years later, America stands at another crossroads, deciding whether government will make certain choices for us or whether once again independent citizens will choose their own destinies.  These revolve around issues that include but are not limited to the proposal for a national health insurance plan, a major controversy.

 

It is my contention that the introduction of insurance into this county was the beginning of another round of taxation without representation.  Mandatory insurance coverage, as sanctioned by our legislators, was intended to protect us from the pitfalls of life.  However, insurance carriers are strangling us with premiums. AIG, the giant of the industry whose motto was “Never outlive your money” had to be bailed out by the citizens of this country to ensure that they could live up to their own motto!

 

As with auto insurance, legislators are considering bills that would make health coverage mandatory, at the risk of a hefty fine for violators.  Before the institution of mandatory insurance coverage — during the Great Depression, for example — the family doctor solved everyone’s medical needs.  He did not charge his patients co-pays and even made house calls at no extra charge.  And we all survived nicely.  Now with a national health insurance plan on the horizon, the cost for such an initiative will once again fall upon the shoulders of the already overburdened taxpayers.  If this is not taxation without representation, I don’t know what is.

 

As we celebrate the dream of our founding fathers on this 233rd Fourth of July, I wonder what they would say about the state of the union today.  Would they cry, “Give me liberty or give me death?”  Would they depend on the Constitution that they authored to protect the independence of our citizens?  Would they, recalling the Boston Tea Party, rise up in protest?  Almost one thing is certain about those men and women who were courageous enough to establish this country and fight for its independence.  They would not “go quietly into that good night;” they would not, meekly, like sheep, accept a governmental edict with which they did not agree.  They would, at the very least, make their voices heard. 

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