Happy Fourth of July. By now you know this is my favorite holiday of the year, far overshadowing both Christmas and Thanksgiving.
Being a kind of amateur historian of the military, I am reminded annually on this day of the bold decision by a handful of citizens to break away from the past and forge a new future. Every signatory to the Declaration of Independence knew, with quill in hand, that their act equated to treason, and that they might well hang for their belief. Most future Americans had little concern with the idea, and even after the War of Independence, many new Americans held strong pro-British sentiments.
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.
It is amazing to think of everything we’ve done since then as a country. We’ve had our regrettable systems and moments, it is true. We still do. But only a nation born as we were could be bold enough to knit together a country between two oceans, or decide that the price of freedom was sufficient to stop the spread of Fascism and Communism and then pay it. It is an act we’ve committed many times, for better or worse, because we believe in being the masters of our own destiny. Forty-four years ago, our boldness and daring put the first human being – an American – on the surface of another world, and did so in a craft with less technology in it than I have in my phone.
I have had better Independence Days than I’ll likely have today. I’ve enjoyed the down-home parades and unashamed patriotic celebrations. I have also stood on foriegn soil more than once on this day, and I’d tell you that being in that situation adds a certain counterpoint to what this day means. For me, it made the entire concept that much more sacred.
For my non-American followers and readers, I hope you’ll understand I mean you no offense whatsoever. We might be rough, ham-fisted, overworked cowboys, that could be true.
But we will not be beaten.