According to Google, John Adams had written to his wife Abigail: "The second day of July, 1776, will be the most memorable epoch in the history of America. I am apt to believe that it will be celebrated by succeeding generations as the great anniversary festival. It ought to be commemorated as the day of deliverance, by solemn acts of devotion to God Almighty. It ought to be solemnized with pomp and parade, with shows, games, sports, guns, bells, bonfires, and illuminations, from one end of this continent to the other, from this time forward forever more."
Evidently John was sharing with his wife an act of courage that marked the birth of our great nation. That act was to formally serve notice to King George that the American Colonies had had enough of his autocratic rule and were determined to set their own course into the future. Officially "Independence Day" but popularly we simply call it the "4th of July."
It is an official government holiday but of course many farmers, public safety personnel, those that render personal services such at the clerk at the gas station, the medical profession and more have to work. Culbertson has its annual parade, enjoyable, fun. Baseball games, picnics, family, relaxing with friends is traditional. In the evening, fire conditions allowing, fireworks great and small. It is a wonderful time to just pause to thank our founding fathers for making it possible to live the freest lives that the world has ever known.
Growing up on the farm just south of town, the 4th of July meant fireworks. My dad evidently loved them as he always found some for us to shoot off on the day. Mostly Black Cats that we unwrapped the fuses and fired off one at a time. Many a tin can went tumbling into the air following a muffled thud! The bigger the crackers the better but some of those really stung the fingers if we held them too long.
Bottle rockets and Roman Candles were fun too. For larger displays we had only to look to town to watch the many displays on a normally hot summer night.
My first real clue that Independence Day was more meaningful than just shooting fireworks came in 1958. I was one of a contingent of 20-some Academy Cadets visiting Air Force installations in the Pacific.
We were guests of Royal Air Force in Hong Kong still a British Colony on the 4th of July. Every once in awhile, the entire city experienced the loud bang of a U.S. Navy cruiser's large gun shooting blanks. The city of Hong Kong is built on steep hills circling a beautiful deep blue harbor and each report echoed through out. Ker Bang, then nothing for about a half hour or so it went morning till night. It was irritating until I figured the significance of the Captain's action. He was literally sticking a finger in the British eye reminding that we had won the war of independence against this very same British government. I've loved the noise and the act of defiance ever since.
Actually losing the American war of Independence worked out rather well for England. Speaking a somewhat similar language the US has allied with the English in many wars since. Most notably we pulled their fat from the fire and enabled their very survival during World War II.
In my experience the Royals and the U.S. military fight well together.
They love to refer to us as their "Colonies." We in turn are not hesitant to remind them who won that last fight. Brothers in arms, the best of all worlds.
That is my personal story but I'd like to share one more up to date.
This from Ben Ferguson, founder of Grannie Annie's Adopt-a-Chaplain organization.
Ben writes, "Early settlers risked life on a journey to the new world in search of freedom; spiritual and physical. In the new land, they were free to worship as they pleased and free from the control of the king. Almost imperceptibly, over time, the freedoms they enjoyed were eroding until it reached the point of being intolerable. Two factions developed -- the "anti war" group was content to live with restricted freedoms; the "pro war" group was willing to fight to regain lost freedoms and led the fight against tyranny of the crown. Central in their thinking was the belief that God has endowed all men with inalienable rights, that "among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness."
They understood writing and signing their Declaration of Independence could be a death sentence.
The last sentence declares "With firm reliance on the protection of Divine providence we mutually pledge to each other our lives, our fortunes, and our sacred honor."
The freedoms they lost would not be restored by smart diplomacy, but by armed men taking it back.
Had that group of men wimped out, we would still speak English with a funny accent. The signers were men of substance, fervor, and faith in God.
Some say the founders were deists, not Christians, but 29 of the signers held seminary degrees. I don't know of a seminary where deism was a major course of study, then ... or now. The new nation's foundation is Christian faith.
"America was founded by people who believed that God was their rock of safety. I recognize we must be cautious in claiming that God is on our side, but I think it's alright to keep asking if we're on his side" Ronald Reagan.
One lesson of the American Revolution is that liberty comes from the muzzle of guns, not the mouths of diplomats. Once obtained, it must be surrounded by "freedom's fence" which is maintained just like it was won ... with guns or it'll be lost little by little or by force.
The sands of history are littered with the wreckage of empires whose tyrants sought to enslave the world. Their empires stood until another tyrant with bigger guns came along. Less than 10 percent of the world's population has the freedoms we enjoy, and they look to us for inspiration and deliverance.
The wars we fight are about liberation not territory or desire to rule others. "We're not conquerors, we're liberators" is what one commander told his troops upon entering Baghdad.
Our young warriors patrol freedom's fence every day. They hate war, yet wage war against tyrants and terrorists who hate the liberties and freedom we enjoy.
This July 4th consider visiting a military cemetery to walk among the rows of crosses to reflect on the freedom we enjoy because they gave so much. Liberty like a garden -- take care of it or lose it."
That is the way I saw it.
__ Dick Trail