For Americans everywhere, the Fourth of July should be more than a time to think about barbeque and apple pie. Much like Memorial Day, many (most?) Americans forget the reality behind the holiday, neglecting the sacrifices made in the name and spirit of the United States of America, good or bad.
The birth of America wasn't easy and it wasn't a task taken lightly. Often forgotten are the countless and often nameless Revolutionaries that fought as both uniformed and insurgent forces against an unjust rule.
At first, they just wanted the wrongs righted, believing the King didn't know what his advisors were doing. Soon they realized the truth.
The Founding Fathers solicited support from foreign countries to aid in our fight. Some countries stepped up offering direct or indirect support. They engaged private resources not only to support the land war, but to attack enemy commerce on the sea and take the fight to the very homeland of our enemy to strike not only at their ability to prosecute the war, but to attack their very will to fight.
The Founding Fathers engaged in traditional as well as public diplomacy to gain and keep support for the cause both home and abroad. Remember the land on which they fought in wasn't entirely theirs. Amongst them were enemy sympathizers, whose eventual eviction from one major city would be remembered for decades, not centuries, as Evacuation Day.
The Founding Fathers who assembled to proclaim Independence for the United States of America knew they were risking life and property. The soldiers themselves, both regular and irregular, knew the same. As did the families and all the supporters of the causes. It was a struggle of life and death. There was to be victory or there would be death ("Vince aut Morte").
The ideals of the new nation were inspirational not only to the new Americans, but to other countries, including our most important ally in the fight who would see her own revolution shortly after ours. This inspiration came from a pairing of diplomacy, deeds, and ideals that focused on the unjust actions of the former master.
Enumerated in our Constitution are some of the fundamental grievances against "tyranny".
Amendment I: Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.
Amendment II: A well regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed.
Amendment III: No soldier shall, in time of peace be quartered in any house, without the consent of the owner, nor in time of war, but in a manner to be prescribed by law.
Amendment IV: The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.
Amendment V: No person shall be held to answer for a capital, or otherwise infamous crime, unless on a presentment or indictment of a grand jury, except in cases arising in the land or naval forces, or in the militia, when in actual service in time of war or public danger; nor shall any person be subject for the same offense to be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb; nor shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself, nor be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation.
The Founding Fathers knew a heavy toll would be exacted with the signing of the Declaration of Independence, as well as a result of their actions before and after July 4, 1776.
A good friend, and the author of Warriors and Politicians, put it well when we wrote "the tree of liberty needs to be nourished, not just with blood but with commitment and respect and fulfillment in later years."
What are you doing to remember and honor the past?
Short bios on the signers of the Declaration of Independence can be found here.