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July 4 2006 - Commentary
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                                                                                                  July 4, 2006

 

 

    Some Thoughts on Independence Day

 

Today of all days should be sacred to all Americans. It is a day wherein a group of

men put their fortunes, their hopes, their dreams and their very lives on the line. It is a day in which some 80 years later a great civil war was fought to preserve those ideas; that ALL Men are indeed created equal.  It is a day for self-reflection that we all are part of a continuing revolution that slowly moves ahead the ideals of freedom and democracy. 

 

Sometimes it comes in the form of war. It is not that we as a people actively seek it, but it finds us none the less.  Yet as such, we, the citizen soldiers of this nation have for the most part made the world a better place. Have we made mistakes, of course we have. No human endeavor is perfect and is limited by the flaws that we as human beings have within us.

 

At other times it came in the form of peaceful legislation wherein wrongs were righted, and the rule of law has as it has in the past prevailed as opposed to tyrannical edicts sent from rulers of nations that have never tasted freedom. We have as a nation been able to protest decisions, change things through the power of the ballot box and made this nation the best place on God’s green earth to live.

 

                                                    Early Mistakes

 

One the first errors we, as a young nation, had made was the turning away of Black Americans to the cause of liberty in the Revolution itself.   During the opening phases of the Revolution, the ranks of the Continental Army had in fact had many black volunteers. This was certainly a boon for the young army for it added additional men to the cause of fighting for freedom. However, southern representatives being short sighted at the time feared the arming of slaves apparently more than they feared the British and as a result Black-Americans were excluded and banned from joining. A terrible shame indeed for it would have definitely swelled the ranks of the Continental Army as blacks young, middle-aged, and old would have enlisted and fought no only for a guarantee of liberty for the young nation but for their own as well,  and perhaps would have brought the war to a swifter conclusion. Had this course of action been acceptable, the American Civil War that followed some four score later may never had happened.  Of course this is all hindsight and what happened is in the past.[1] 

 

In a little twist of irony the British knowing this took advantage of this fact and offered to blacks, freedom if they would abandon the American cause and serve with the British Army.  It is a sad note that the British (even if the purpose was perhaps a self-serving one) offered to blacks the very freedom that the Americans were seeking for themselves; the right to determine their own lives.

 

Thomas Jefferson, the author of the Declaration of Independence, no doubt wrestled with this concept of liberty for ALL men himself.  Being the owner of some two hundred slaves, it is a marvel to me how he could write as he did. Recently I viewed show wherein it was said that he made many drafts of the now world famous document which did indeed include ALL, but again there were many dissenting voices. 

 

 

                                                The Westward Expansion

 

As the nation grew we encountered time and again the Native American Indian and clashed with them many times. Some folks today would suggest that this was intentional genocide but I would say that it was a clash of cultures one modern the other not.  Was it a dark episode in US History? No doubt it was. America could have certainly done a better job of handling it.  In the end though we have tried again to correct the wrongs done to people that had no voice in our government. 

 

Still the nation grew until it was coast to coast and that brings us to:

 

 

                                                   The Here and Now

 

And so here we sit today. I would suggest to ALL Americans that as you reflect on this day that we take one moment to thank Providence for all the blessing that HE has seen fit to set before us. Again, we are not a perfect nation. There are of course many things that need to be addressed.  But we are also a nation of laws and as such pass these blessings onto our children time and again through the process of free elections. The handing of power to those that come behind us will hopefully continue, and as such go forward to make this nation what it is; a shinning beacon of light on the hill. 

 

However, what distress me the most is that this wonderful anniversary has become all too often an occasion to just party and shoot off fireworks.  For others it is a reason to get away from the humdrum life of every day living. There seems to be little care for the actual reason as it is just to have a good time, it being just a good excuse to let off steam.  To these I suggest that while I do not oppose the festive mood at all and in fact enjoy it myself, perhaps a reading of the Declarations opening lines before the paryt, or perhaps the Pledge of Allegiance to begin things, or maybe a moment of prayer to open the festivities of this day.  (For you ALCU types it could be silent prayer if you choose). 

 

Whatever one may select let it be with a clear mind and understanding of what this day means not only to Americans but what it represents to others in the world that still continue to flock to the shores of this nation. 

 

 

 

 

 

 



[1] This error was again committed by the Northern Army whose Generals doubted the ability of Free Blacks to fight for a cause that directly affected them. In the end the US Army accepted this change and although the units WERE indeed segregated, they did come into existence. There are now volumes of works written on the black units that served with distinction up to and including WW11