While taking inventory of my fireworks stash (mostly sparklers), I’ve been musing on America’s holiday weekend…
How about the study that suggests Democrats don’t benefit from July 4th parades?
While unfurling a dozen or so various sized American flags to display in my yard, the real significance of Old Glory has weighed on my mind… Mitt Romney’s wonderful new video shares my sentiments; it’s time to celebrate the greatness of America!
Given where our nation stands right now and the emotions swirling ’round my heart, I knew this post wouldn’t be a quick read. Sometimes, the occasion calls for more.
Thoughts take me back to the unforgettable events which would forever change 13 obscure colonies 235 years ago – to the known and unknown individuals that played a part in the great American Revolution…
We are taught to honor and celebrate those great men who wrote and voted for the Declaration of Independence in Philadelphia. But none of what they committed themselves to—their lives, their fortunes, their sacred honor—none of those noble words about life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, about all men being created equal, none of that would have been worth any more than the paper it was written on had it not been for those who were fighting to make it happen. We must remember them, too, and especially those who seem nameless: Jabez Fitch and Joseph Hodgkins; little John Greenwood, who was all of 16 years old; and Israel Trask, who was 10 years old. There were boys marching with the troops as fifers or drummers or messenger boys, not just Nathanael Greene and Henry Knox and John Glover and George Washington. And they were in rags—they were in worse than rags. The troops had no winter clothing. The stories of men leaving bloody footprints in the snow are true—that’s not mythology.
Washington was trying to get his army across the Delaware River, to put the river between his army and the oncoming British army, which was very well equipped, very well fed, very well trained—the best troops in the world led by an extremely able officer, Cornwallis. On they were coming, and they were going to end the war. But Washington felt that if he could just get across the river, get what men he had left over on the Pennsylvania shore on the western side, destroy any boats the British might use to come chasing across the river, that they’d have time to collect themselves and maybe get some extra support. Again they went across at night. Again it was John Glover and his men who made it happen. They lit huge bonfires on the Pennsylvania side of the river to light the crossing.
The creator of the following video writes that on a cold December day, he took his son to “holy ground on the banks of the Delaware River. It is there you will find casualties who were not able to make The Crossing in 1776. Whether because of sickness or cold or injury they gave their lives for a nation which was not yet formed. This is meant to be a thought provoking 5 minute reflection, [...] to see a memorial to unknown soldiers we owe so much at a place which many know nothing about.”
Washington took stock[...] Most everybody concluded that the war was over and we had lost. It was the only rational conclusion one could come to. There wasn’t a chance. So Washington did what you sometimes have to do when everything is lost and all hope is gone. He attacked.
He had the nerve, the courage, the faith in the cause to carry the war once more to the enemy. After the crossing, they marched nine miles back down the river on the eastern side and struck at Trenton the next morning.
It was a bloody, fierce, 45 minute house-to-house battle. When the shouts and screams died down, our Continental boys prevailed. They won. It was a transforming turning point in our nation’s history.
In conclusion, I want to share a scene that took place on the last day of the year of 1776, Dec. 31. All the enlistments for the entire army were up. Every soldier, because of the system at the time, was free to go home as of the first day of January 1777. Washington called a large part of the troops out into formation. He appeared in front of these ragged men on his horse, and he urged them to reenlist. He said that if they would sign up for another six months, he’d give them a bonus of 10 dollars. It was an enormous amount then because that’s about what they were being paid for a month—if and when they could get paid. These were men who were desperate for pay of any kind. Their families were starving.
The drums rolled, and he asked those who would stay on to step forward. The drums kept rolling, and nobody stepped forward. Washington turned and rode away from them. Then he stopped, and he turned back and rode up to them again. This is what we know he said:
My brave fellows, you have done all I asked you to do, and more than could be reasonably expected, but your country is at stake, your wives, your houses, and all that you hold dear. You have worn yourselves out with fatigues and hardships, but we know not how to spare you. If you will consent to stay one month longer, you will render that service to the cause of liberty, and to your country, which you can probably never do under any other circumstance.
Again the drums rolled. This time the men began stepping forward. “God Almighty,” wrote Nathanael Greene, “inclined their hearts to listen to the proposal and they engaged anew.”
The eight year war for independence came down to this; the British were fighting for a king – the vastly outnumbered Americans were fighting for liberty and their lives.
Flags in my yard are all dancing in the breeze now. As the stars and stripes wave, my heart overflows with gratitude and celebration for the named and unnamed who have sacrificed through the years so we could breathe freedom’s air.
This weekend, when we see Old Glory flying and thrill to fireworks’ boom, let’s especially remember those courageous, tough, long-ago patriots who took the musket balls, who felt the bayonet’s slash, who starved and froze in mud and snow, who marched endless miles with feet swathed in bloody rags, who suffered every privation, who lost limb and life, who pressed on – daring to defy a king, our heroes who brought forth the United States of America.