“No, you big dummy, have you never heard of the Declaration of Independence?”
“Well do the calendars in England go July 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 5th……,” he said.
I’d been had. He got the last laugh.
Truth is, when I was a kid I didn’t waste much brain power thinking about the significance of the Fourth of July. What I did think about was baseball, cold watermelon, homemade ice cream, and trying to figure out a way to get a firecracker in the pockets of one of my cousins, before they put one in mine.
To me, the American Revolution seemed like ancient history. I don’t remember ever giving a second thought to all those forefathers who sacrificed their lives for me.
The flag was something flapping at the top of a tall pole in the school yard. Of course I always stood at football games when they raised the flag and played the national anthem, but it wasn’t until the mid sixties when friends started coming home from Vietnam in flag draped coffins, that I finally started thinking about the price of freedom.
Later when I entered college, I became a student of history. Our professor at Jeff State was a gifted teacher.
He not only covered the facts in the text books, but he brought history to life with stories that weren’t in the book.
In those lessons, I came to understand just how close this country came to failing in their quest for independence.
The signers of the Declaration of Independence were considered to be traitors by the Queen of England.
I think it was Ben Franklin who said “we must all hang together, or assuredly we will all hang separately.”
Now that’s putting your money where your mouth is. How many of us today, would be so bold?
It seems to me that our country is in no less of a peril today than in 1776. We don’t have English battleships in our harbors or foreign troops on our soil, but the threats and challenges are just as daunting.
We’re fighting two wars, we have the constant threat of terrorism, an economy that seems to be wobbly as a newborn child, and an oil spill that is the worst environmental catastrophe in history.
To make things worse, it seems our government is paralyzed and incapable of doing anything to help matters.
The problem, as I see it, is not that we are incapable of fixing things, but that we, as a county are divided practically down the middle. No one is willing to sacrifice.
Politicians start campaigning for re-elections the first day they take office. In this environment, they seem to be unwilling to compromise, or meet in the middle, for fear of losing votes.
Most Washington politicians are quick to tell you what they are AGAINST, but few stand up and say what they are FOR.
The solutions to our problems are not easy ones and they do not reside on the left or the right, but somewhere in the middle. Compromise is how this country started and if we don’t have the guts to start compromising again, it could lead to our downfall.
I believe deep down inside, that all Americans want a shot at a good job, a decent place to live, and to leave an environment fit for our children.
I plan to have some watermelon and homemade ice cream today, but my hope for this Fourth of July is that we all learn “to hang together” and get America back on the right path.