By Allen Hamrick
Here it is July 4th and the biggest things on peoples’ minds are fireworks, camping, boating and hanging out with family while chomping down on some 4th of July chow off the grill. Rightly so, too. We have reason to enjoy the freedom to put pancake syrup on a hot dog, don’t we? Of course we do, but let’s not forget what those rockets’ red glare is all about. Our national anthem proclaims, “And the rocket’s red glare, the bombs bursting in air, gave proof through the night that our flag was still there.” There is no way that this article, along with twenty more volumes, could portray the history in detail of this United States even though the land is very young compared to other countries. The history of this country started long before 1776 and continues to evolve everyday, sometimes good and sometimes not so good depending on your politics.
Change is inevitable and remembering history takes a backseat to everything else, especially in the classroom. For instance, go and ask someone who Daniel Boone was or George Washington was. Most youth will tell you exactly who he is…he wore a coonskin cap or he’s the guy on the quarter. What was the Stamp Act? They will tell you it was a scene in a play they saw in New York. How about the Boston Massacre? Wasn’t that when that blonde headed man got killed by the Indians? Daughters of Liberty? Of course, they’re a group of women from Texas who stand behind people who don’t get a fair shake in life. All these events and groups were part of the beginning of this country before 1776. It was a time when people got tired of the status quo of bowing to established orders; it was a time that people took control of their own lives. So from 1775 to 1781, the American people fought against a powerful British Empire that was determined to control their fate as well as that of every newborn from that time forward. However, those early people, with a minimum of fire power, pitchforks and wooden canoes, overcame the armies and navies of that great country.
These determined people called themselves Patriots which infuriated the British and caused them to make mistakes that cost Britain the war – all because of a word. It was a great political victory from the standpoint of a people who organized into colonies and declared their independence. The war was a victory for people who could now find their place in a society governed by their own neighbors. However, like most good things, this utopia came to an end. America has enjoyed freedoms, as well as endured difficult times of war, not only across the seas but also on our own turf. In times of political upheaval, the fallout has shaken the very foundation of this country and the principles it was founded on. Unfortunately, that still happens to this day. Will we ever get it right? Who knows? We still don’t have it set in stone and may never get it perfect.
The Revolutionary War took care of a lot of problems yet at the same time created just as many. The desire for freedom and autonomy started the process of the thirteen original colonies becoming the United States of America. People have poured into the county over the years, and America has become a melting pot of a multitude of opinions and dissensions. We seem to have become a people who have lost the ideas of what got this country started. Perhaps we need to reflect on the desires of our forefathers and not focus solely on our own.
Many of the working class families of that time endured some of the worst of conditions, but because of those hard working generations who were inventors, story tellers, wood wrights, blacksmiths, loggers, pioneers, mountain men, trappers, farmers, and such, all of them built and rebuilt when all seemed lost and struggled to keep food on the table. It has been said that a ship doesn’t sink because of the water around it but due to the water that gets in it. Those previous generations made it because they worked together to make life bearable and better for future generations and all the while kept the water at bay. Today, it seems as if the water is getting in the ship from every direction, and America is in danger of sinking.
Those generations of people of our past looked at tragedy as giving them a greater purpose and a chance to see life as being more than just about themselves; they became transcendental in their thoughts and in their actions. Their lives, struggles and accomplishments should be taught in schools, not so much the political aspect but the people aspect, the resilience. Government would not exist if not for the working people who keep the money train moving. Government would not exist if not for people who had vision and created opportunity for those that had none. Look into your own family tree and somewhere you will find individuals who made a difference, who were among those helped build this country we call the United States of America.
So, when you see the fireworks, remember what they are about – a time when our ancestors fought and died to blaze the way for us to be free. Freedom costs and not in any form of money can one pay for it. The only way to get freedom is through sacrifice of not only effort and time but also of lives. Francis Scott Key, and no, he wasn’t a locksmith, was inspired to pen The Defense of Fort McHenry, otherwise known as The Star Spangled Banner, when the British navy fleet attempted to bomb Fort McHenry in an attempt to take over the town. The people and the fort stood strong, and the British were defeated. The actions of the Patriots when this county was formed were a thing of beauty. It is never over, though; hope is the last thing that dies within its people. Let’s not let it die in our country. “Oh, say does that star spangled banner yet wave o’er the land of the free and the home of the brave?” Let not the last legacy of we the people be a bitter taste to the future of this county. We all are Americans, like it or not, and there is a standard that we the people set long ago; let’s not lose sight of it. Happy 4th.