A Tribute on the Fourth of July

Tomorrow is the 243rd anniversary of the signing of the Declaration of Independence, one of the most unique documents ever written in the history of government.  After months of debate, vigorous at times, those delegates to the Continental Congress, meeting in Philadelphia, made a courageous decision to declare their independence from Great Britain.  Each person who signed that Declaration knew the potential consequences that signature could bring.  For many, those consequences became reality.  Some lost their financial fortunes, either through investing in the needs of this new nation or through confiscation by the British.  A few experienced imprisonment.  And many became the target for ridicule and scorn.  Yet they had a vision for a nation founded upon the principles of democracy - something that had not happened before.  They believed in the right of the people to rule themselves - not through a monarchy, not through a dictator, not through the rule of church hierarchy.  As Abraham Lincoln would say at Gettysburg eighty-seven years later, it was a "government of the people, by the people, for the people." 


Were these men perfect in their lifestyles?  Absolutely not!  Many of them were owners of slaves, even though a few of them would grant freedom to those slaves.  At least one of them was known as a womanizer.  Most of them had problems with their egos and those egos often invaded the space on the floor of Independence Hall.  They were loyalists to their colonies, soon to become states.  Yet, collectively, they had this vision and worked toward the reality of that vision.  And so, on July 4, 1776, bands played, cannons volleyed, people shouted the news of Independence. 


A war would ensue that would last for nearly six years.  The newly birthed nation struggled to find its leadership voice.  George Washington was hired to be the commanding general of the many militias that would form an army.  But, within the ranks of those officers under Washington were others who felt that they should have had that appointment: Horatio Gates and Charles Lee, just to name two.  Washington was under constant duress because the Congress had little money with which to supply the army.  Shoes, in particular, were in short supply, and uniforms were almost unheard of.  The winter of 1777 at Valley Forge was particularly difficult for both Washington and his men.  The lack of provisions, accompanied by the severity of the winter, made for some moments where the future of the war was in doubt. 


Yet, through a series of miracles, the army rallied and fought brilliantly against the mightiest military machine in the world.  And a new nation that had been conceived in the hearts of those signatories in Philadelphia became a reality - the newest nation on the face of the earth. 


That new nation was soon tested.  Shay's Rebellion - a consequence of the failure to pay our soldiers - tested the resolve of our leadership.  Soon our nation was embroiled in its first international war against the Barbary Coast pirates.  The Articles of Confederation which initially governed the affairs of the newly created states was soon found to be highly ineffective.  Seeking to repair their weaknesses, another group of patriots, many of whom were in Philadelphia that July 4, 1776, created the greatest governance document in the history of the world - the United States Constitution. 


So, why should I tell this story?  It is because it has become a forgotten one.  Those brave men, heroes in 1776, are now seen in a less than heroic role today.  Schools that once bore the name of Jefferson, Madison, and Monroe have now been replaced with other less controversial names.  And what was the "sin" of Jefferson, Madison, and Monroe?  They owned slaves.  No, they were not perfect, but they were patriots.  Many, within the halls of Congress today, would be delighted to see the United States Constitution become something stored in the backrooms of the archives.  Their vision of America is certainly not that of those Founding Fathers back in 1776.  Those men, back in 1776, feared an invasive government; leaders today desire an even more invasive government. 


I am saddened by what I am hearing that America's school children are not learning about American history.  They are not learning how God worked both directly and indirectly in this nation's creation - a sudden fog that enveloped Washington's army as it retreated from New York, just to give an example.  They are not learning that prayer was an integral part of many of the lives of our Founding Fathers. 


Friends, as part of your Fourth of July gathering tomorrow, take a few moments to thank God for this country in which you live.  And remember to pray for those in leadership over you as well.  So, have a Happy Fourth of July.

Comments

  1. It is common knowledge that those who do not learn from history have a tendency to repeat it. We may find ourselves in a revolution against the takeover of our country by the Progressives, Socialists and Communists. If this country falters, will we have just sat on the sidelines and let it happen? Father God, give us strength and fortitude to deny our enemy.

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