I just put up two American Flags at our house, as I do every summer to get ready for the 4th of July. This has corresponded with my ten year old being fascinated by History and wanting me to relay historic events to her at bedtime or on long car rides. I seem to have read a lot about English history, but very little about our own. The only thing I can remember from my high school American History class is …well, nothing (sorry Mr. Carter). So when my daughter asked me about the American Revolution my “relaying” was more like a rogue Haiku.
“America was fed up
With Brits bossing them…
So they threw tea in the water.”
Sad, I know. Even my daughter was disappointed in me. So, I thought it would be a good idea to do a little digging and come up with a few things of interest to share with my children. Not to step on the toes of fireworks, BBQ and corn on the cob, but I wanted to ground the 4th of July holiday in meaning. It is a celebration, but also a ritual of remembrance and gratitude to our Founding Fathers, the courageous revolutionary solders, and this wonderful country of ours.
1. The signing of the Declaration of Independence was considered by the British as an act of treason punishable by death. The fifty-six men who signed knew that there was a good likelihood that they would be hanged as traitors.
2. The war lasted a long 7 years after the signing. The Revolutionary Army was this tiny bunch of colonists going up against the greatest military and economic power in the world.
3. The British treated the revolution as a joke. At the beginning of the war, when the American army was in retreat (and there was a lot of that) the British would give chase sounding fox hunting horns; meaning you’re not even soldiers. You are little better than animals pursued for sport.
4. It was a miracle the American’s won and baffling to the British. So baffling that at their surrender at Yorktown, the British played the song, “The World Turned Upside Down.”
5. Of the 56 men who signed the Declaration of Independence…
- 2 became Presidents of their new Country.
- 5 were captured by the British as traitors, and tortured before they died.
- 12 had their homes ransacked and burned.
- 2 lost their sons in the war.
- 9 fought and died from their wounds, or the hardships of the War of Independence.
Many of the signers were men of education and means, but died in abject poverty. Their lands were laid waste, their families scattered, and their sons dead.
On a personal note, I know we all celebrate July 4th to reaffirm our commitment to freedom and liberty. We have freedom to choose: our religion, our political party, our husband and if we can wear brown shoes with a black suit. But here is what I really love about our wonderful country. We are also here to defend someone else’s right to choose differently from us. We are here to uphold our right to disagree and take different paths.
Okay, and as a little dessert, a friend of mine (thank you Eva), turned me onto this video of Lin Manuel Miranda performing a spoken word piece about Alexander Hamilton (not a signer of The Declaration of Independence, but signed the Constitution) for the White House. It is fantastic. Watch it.
Tell me what you love about our country and a Happy 4th of July to everyone.
Ps – If you want to fly an American flag during the holiday you can get one here.