Tag Archive | "July 4 1776"

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?

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