Independence Day

Tomorrow is Independence Day, honoring the birth of our nation, although the majority of Americans refer to the holiday as “The Fourth of July” or simply “The Fourth.”

I think we need to remember what the day really means. America consisted of a group of colonies under British rule 236 years ago. Citizens were required to buy goods from England at inflated prices and in many cases were not allowed to manufacture goods for domestic use or export. Many of the leaders decided the taxes imposed on Americans were unjust and they rebelled. The result was a war between the upstart Colonists and one of the largest militaries of the day.

The colonies were ill prepared for war: they had no government, no organized military, no financial system, no nothing except desire and guts. This ragtag group of farmers, millers, and smiths organized into state militias and, with help from the Spanish, French, and Dutch, were victorious.

Nearly a year after the war started, the Continental Congress (actually Thomas Jefferson) drafted the Declaration of Independence, which was officially adopted on July 4, 1776. Thus, the birthday of theUnited States of America.

Fifty-six men signed the Declaration and pledged their lives and fortunes. Five of these men were captured by the British and tortured before they were killed. Nine died from wounds. Two lost sons to the fighting. One signer lost his entire fleet of trading ships during the war and died broke after paying his debts. Eleven had their homes destroyed, either in battle or by looters.

Soldiers, sailors, and Marines lacked uniforms and wore homespun cotton and wool or animal skins. Decent footwear was nearly nonexistent. Weapons consisted of hunting rifles while their opponents had weapons designed for battle. More troops died from disease than died in battle.

Regardless of your political leanings, take a moment tomorrow to remember the men who began our country and remember what the day represents. Independence Day is more than picnics, beer, and baseball.

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