I heard a radio commercial today where the voice says something very similar, if not exactly, to, "The Fourth of July is over, but we would like it to go on," and then launches into an announcement about the chain's July sale. I'm in the same boat. I love the Fourth of July and wish it was a week long celebration. I love it for the history, for its meaning, for what we can and should learn from it. I love it for the sheer miracle of it all, and the patriotic passion and vision for a new country, founded in a new way of thinking, based on the laws of Nature's God with which all are endowed; for the unprecedented break with the world's dominant power. I love it for the extraordinary courage by all involved — the foot soldiers, sailors and officers, the state militias, the political leaders, agitators, pamphleteers and writers; and the merchants, financiers, manufacturers, shippers, farmers, laborers, slaves and others who made the financial and in-kind contributions to the Independence movement, the seven-year slog of war, and eventual victory over Great Britain.
I love it for the brotherhood of all involved; for their selflessness and willingness to sacrifice. Especially the Founders, whose names on the Declaration (which everyone should re-read this time of year to re-ground themselves) were warrants for their arrest and sure death for treason. These men of means had everything to lose. They could easily have lived comfortably under the status quo and let average Joes and Janes fend for themselves under tyrannical rule. Go along to get along, the prevalent S.O.P. today, was not part of their constitution. Are there any politicians today of similar composition?
So, forgive me if we reflect a few days this week on what historian Robert MiddleKauff justly termed The Glorious Cause. It sure was glorious and the cause unsurpassed in the history of nations. But all causes require sacrifice and the Founders were up against it. For me, the most stirring words of the Declaration are:
And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of Divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes, and our sacred Honor.
They sure did do that and more, for an uncertain outcome. Many had their homes destroyed and lost their fortunes. Thomas Nelson, a signer of the Declaration, declared at the Second Virginia Convention, where Patrick Henry made his "Liberty or Death" speech, that if the invaders sailed up the York River, he's personally provide the funds to raise up a militia and drive the enemy into the water. He eventually did something of the kind — his house was a British canon target during Yorktown and the damage remains visible today.
He's but one example of the extraordinary men who not only were brilliant minds who crafted a new, unique, nation that respected liberty for all, and disposed of the notion that people were born forever into a certain station, but who bravely led and sacrificed. Not pointy-headed theoreticians, these, but true leaders and visionaries — altruists, even — who's patriotism was above all else, including self. They knew more than forms of governance. They knew the emerging American mind, a mind of a new people willing to cut it on their own, depending on their wits and abilities and nothing else, who yearned to exercise nothing more than the natural rights conferred upon them at birth by their just Creator.