This past Fourth of July, I attended the annual Crab-Orchard Chapter of the National Daughters of the American Revolution Children’s Parade, held each year on Main St.
Children come from all over to participate in this simple yet meaningful observance of our nation’s birth. They dress up in their red, white and blue and ride their bikes, trikes or other kid-powered (or battery powered) vehicles from the Palace Theatre to the the Crossville Depot.
They wave their flags and they wish this nation another happy year.
We’re at year 243 for this little nation “conceived in liberty and dedicated to the proposition that all men (and women) are created equal,” (Thanks, President Lincoln).
On July 4, 1776, the Continental Congress adopted the Declaration of Independence, a document outlining the wrongs they believed had been committed against the 13 colonies. They dissolved their relationship with England and declared “That these United Colonies are, and of Right ought to be Free and Independent States; that they are Absolved from all Allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political connection between them and the State of Great Britain, is and ought to be totally dissolved.”
In all, 56 delegates endorsed the declaration. John Hancock was president of the Congress. The age of the delegates ranged from 26 (Edward Rutledge and Tomas Lynch Jr.) to 70 (Benjamin Franklin).
The men pledged their lives, their fortunes and their sacred honor. The British weren’t about to let their colonies go without a fight and, from the British point of view, the Declaration was an act of treason.
Five of the signers were captured by the British and were tortured before they died. Two lost sons in the Revolution while another had his sons captured. Twelve signers had their homes ransacked and burned by the British. Nine died from wounds or illness during the war.
Others were ruined by financial losses. Some had to send their families into hiding. At least one suffered the loss of his wife at the hands of the enemy.
Today, we enjoy a pretty privileged place to sit and look back at this history. Thanks to the sacrifices of these and countless other patriots, we have a country that allows us to redress our government for grievances. We have representation for taxation. We are free to worship or not as fits our conscience.
We can say what we want, write what we want, believe what we want.
And we have 56 brave souls to thank for that.
The Founding Fathers gave their young country a gift, one that continues to this day. No, we haven’t always lived up to the ideals expressed in that historic document, but good men and women across the country continue to ensure that we fight the good fight to ensure we can all enjoy life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.
To see a street full of young people celebrating that gift is awe inspiring. These kids are the future of our nation. They’re the doctors and nurses who will care for me and the future journalists I may one day teach about the intricacies of local government and why it’s important we go to the city council and commission meetings.
Among them may be future lawmakers, perhaps a governor or even a president. Hopefully they’ll all be voters and let their voice be heard from city hall to the halls of Congress.
But last week, they were young Americans, waving their flags, enjoying the celebration of all we hold dear.