Happy Fourth of July! Today is our beloved country’s 239th birthday!
I am so proud and constantly awestruck that this experiment in democracy is still going strong. Its had its rough spots, including its conception based in paranoia of rule by one, some not so pretty moments, manifest destiny in the West and the imprisonment of Alice Paul, and even a moment when it looked like it might fail, a.k.a the Civil War. But through all its ugly moments, its growing pains, and its constant evolution, this experiment in democracy, this nation, this United States of America, has stood strong. Like any individual entity, its made some mistakes, its tried its best to do “the right thing”, its grown and continues to learn.
It was a country founded on equality for all. It is constantly working toward this goal of equality and that is, albeit, a slow process sometimes, a beautiful one to see. To quote Martin Luther King, “I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: ‘We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal.'” It is a country founded on the principle belief that all of mankind is “endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”
So today as you grill a hamburger or a hotdog, watch a local Fourth of July parade, or enjoy a fireworks show, I ask that you consider today as more than just a day off from work, more than an excuse to party. Take a moment to think about how our nation was formed, what costs have been paid for you to have that day off from work, what enabled you to be able to sit, watch a parade, eat leisurely while enjoying a fireworks show.
I have made no qualms about my love and pride for our nation’s men and women of service. That extends to my nation. I do not think my country is perfect. In fact, I think it is flawed and fallible in so many ways. But I am so proud of the principles it was founded on. I am so proud of how it works and tries to live out those principles, even when its efforts to do so don’t always work out. I am so proud to live in this nation where individuals can call the nation out when it misses the mark on those principles without free of reprisal. I am glad to call these United States of America my home. “I won’t forget the men who died who gave that right to me.”*
Speaking of, as a little food for thought. We all know of George Washington, our nation’s first president and great revolutionary war general, Thomas Jefferson, president and writer of the Declaration of Independence, and Benjamin Franklin, inventor, statesman and face of the $100 bill. But here are just a few people from the Revolutionary War history you may not know who helped shape our nation and the freedoms we have.
Yes, the biggest signature on the Declaration of Independence. But not because he wanted to make sure almost blind King George could see his signature. It was because he was the first to sign. He also helped fund, plan and even participated in many of the early acts against the Crown in Boston, along with Samuel Adams and other Sons of Liberty. He served as the president of the second Continental Congress and went on to serve as the first governor of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts until his death.
A doctor in Massachusetts who aided John Hancock, Samuel Adams, and other early patriots against the Crown. He sent Paul Revere and William Dawes on the famous Midnight Ride after receiving information from a spy that “the British are coming” to arrest John Hancock and Samuel Adams. (For the record, it was actually Samuel Prescott, a young doctor, who made it to Concord to warn of the British soldiers’ plans, as Dawes and Revere never made it.) He gave his life at the Battle of Bunker Hill on June 14, 1775. To inspire his vastly outnumbered ranks, Warren repeatedly declared: “These fellows say we won’t fight! By Heaven, I hope I shall die up to my knees in blood!” In order to give the colonial militia time to escape, he fought until all his ammunition was gone, remaining until the British third and final assault on the hill. Killed instantly by a musket ball shot to the head, his body was later stripped and bayoneted, mutilating his body beyond recognition. He was then shoved into a shallow ditch, where he lay buried until Paul Revere and his brothers removed him. He was the Revolutionary War’s first martyr.
She is most generally thought to be Mary Ludwig Hays McCauley. She helped colony soldiers collapsing from heat by bringing them water during the Battle of Monmouth. When her husband William Hays collapsed (not known for sure why) she took up arms and his place at a cannon. She became Sergeant Molly when George Washington awarded her the rank in recognition of her efforts during the battle. She served as a Daughter of Liberty along with other patriotic women including Martha Washington, Deborah Sampson, Esther de Berdt Reed, and Sarah Franklin Bache.
Wanting to serve in the continental army and fight along side others for freedom, she dressed as a man, enlisted under her deceased brother’s name and served for more than a year and half and was ultimately honorably discharged. She took two musket shots to her thigh and a large gash to her forehead during her first battle outside Tarrytown, New York in 1782. Not wanting doctors to find out her secret, she left the hospital before they could treat her gunshots. She removed one of the musket balls with a penknife and sewing needle. She was unable to reach the other musket ball as it was too deep and, as a result, the leg never truly healed right. She would be marred with financial troubles through most of her remaining life post the Revolutionary War, often borrowing money from Paul Revere. Sadly, her pension as a soldier was denied to her because she was a woman until 1816, 33 years after her date of being discharged honorably.
Happy Fourth of July and thank you to all that have served to protect our freedom, life and liberty – past and present. Without your sacrifice, this nation would not be here.
Until next post!
Photos Source: graffiti-alphabet-letters.com
Lyrics from Lee Greenwood’s God Bless the U. S.A.