Grif.Net

07/04/11 Independence Day Grif.Net – What July 4th Means to Me

07/04/11 Independence Day Grif.Net – What July 4th Means to Me

For one who was born and grew up in the small towns of the Midwest, there is
a special kind of nostalgia about the Fourth of July.

I remember it as a day almost as long-anticipated as Christmas. This was
helped along by the appearance in store windows of all kinds of fireworks
and colorful posters advertising them with vivid pictures.

No later than the third of July – sometimes earlier – Dad would bring home
what he felt he could afford to see go up in smoke and flame. We’d count and
recount the number of firecrackers, display pieces and other things and go
to bed determined to be up with the sun so as to offer the first, thunderous
notice of the Fourth of July.

I’m afraid we didn’t give too much thought to the meaning of the day. And,
yes, there were tragic accidents to mar it, resulting from careless handling
of the fireworks. I’m sure we’re better off today with fireworks largely
handled by professionals. Yet there was a thrill never to be forgotten in
seeing a tin can blown 30 feet in the air by a giant “cracker” – giant
meaning it was about 4 inches long. But enough of nostalgia.

Somewhere in our growing up we began to be aware of the meaning of days and
with that awareness came the birth of patriotism. July Fourth is the
birthday of our nation. I believed as a boy, and believe even more today,
that it is the birthday of the greatest nation on earth.

There is a legend about the day of our nation’s birth in the little hall in
Philadelphia, a day on which debate had raged for hours. The men gathered
there were honorable men hard-pressed by a king who had flouted the very
laws they were willing to obey. Even so, to sign the Declaration of
Independence was such an irretrievable act that the walls resounded with the
words “treason, the gallows, the headsman’s axe,” and the issue remained in
doubt.

The legend says that at that point a man rose and spoke. He is described as
not a young man, but one who had to summon all his energy for an impassioned
plea. He cited the grievances that had brought them to this moment and
finally, his voice falling, he said, “They may turn every tree into a
gallows, every hole into a grave, and yet the words of that parchment can
never die. To the mechanic in the workshop, they will speak hope; to the
slave in the mines, freedom. Sign that parchment. Sign if the next moment
the noose is around your neck, for that parchment will be the textbook of
freedom, the Bible of the rights of man forever.”

He fell back exhausted. The 56 delegates, swept up by his eloquence, rushed
forward and signed that document destined to be as immortal as a work of man
can be. When they turned to thank him for his timely oratory, he was not to
be found, nor could any be found who knew who he was or how he had come in
or gone out through the locked and guarded doors.

Well, that is the legend. But we do know for certain that 56 men, a little
band so unique we have never seen their like since, had pledged their lives,
their fortunes and their sacred honor. Some gave their lives in the war that
followed, most gave their fortunes, and all preserved their sacred honor.

What manner of men were they? Twenty-four were lawyers and jurists, 11 were
merchants and tradesmen, and nine were farmers. They were soft-spoken men of
means and education; they were not an unwashed rabble. They had achieved
security but valued freedom more. Their stories have not been told nearly
enough.
John Hart was driven from the side of his desperately ill wife. For more
than a year he lived in the forest and in caves before he returned to find
his wife dead, his children vanished, his property destroyed. He died of
exhaustion and a broken heart.

Carter Braxton of Virginia lost all his ships, sold his home to pay his
debts, and died in rags. And so it was with Ellery, Clymer, Hall, Walton,
Gwinnett, Rutledge, Morris, Livingston and Middleton. Nelson personally
urged Washington to fire on his home and destroy it when it became the
headquarters for General Cornwallis. Nelson died bankrupt.

But they sired a nation that grew from sea to shining sea. Five million
farms, quiet villages, cities that never sleep, 3 million square miles of
forest, field, mountain and desert, 227 million people with a pedigree that
includes the bloodlines of all the world. In recent years, however, I’ve
come to think of that day as more than just the birthday of a nation.

It also commemorates the only true philosophical revolution in all history.
Oh, there have been revolutions before and since ours. But those revolutions
simply exchanged one set of rules for another. Ours was a revolution that
changed the very concept of government.

Let the Fourth of July always be a reminder that here in this land, for the
first time, it was decided that man is born with certain God-given rights;
that government is only a convenience created and managed by the people,
with no powers of its own except those voluntarily granted to it by the
people.

We sometimes forget that great truth, and we never should.

Happy Fourth of July.

Ronald Reagan President of the United States
July 4, 1981

~~
Dr Bob Griffin
bob@grif.net www.grif.net
“Jesus Knows Me, This I Love!”