Archive for July 4th, 2006

HAPPY BIRTHDAY

July 4, 2006

I know I’m posting late again, but a couple of other posts have shown up lately – one from someone who doesn’t post very often – so I decided to not clutter up the blog with a mediocre and uninspired offering on my appointed day. I can be mediocre and uninspired anytime. Also, with a topic like “history,” I just couldn’t resist waiting until the anniversary of our country’s founding. The chance only comes once a year.

Two hundred and thirty years ago today, The Declaration of Independence came back from the printer and was given to the public. It was actually signed – but only by John Hancock – two days prior, and some of its’ authors thought that July 2nd should be celebrated instead of the 4th. Once the copy hit the streets in Philadelphia, however, the 4th of July took on a life of it’s own in the national memory, and that one pesky detail was largely forgotten.

For Americans, July 4th is the ultimate patriotic holiday. Unfortunately, the term “patriotism” has taken a beating in this forum lately, and I must admit that I share many of the feeling I’ve seen expressed here. Any time I hear or see any public figure – be they preacher, military commander, congressman, president, or local politician – wrap themselves in the flag to support some issue or other, my first reaction is to put my hand on my wallet. The current issue – the flag burning amendment – whether it is worthy or not, is only the latest example. For those intent on always defining patriotism based on abuses of it, I’m afraid there will never be a shortage of examples to use, mankind being what he is.

I would argue, however, that there is a kind of patriotism that isn’t the same as the blatant pandering we see too often from our elected officials and other public figures. I think it boils down to a simple love of a person for their home and way of life and the belief that both are worth preserving and passing on to their children. If that is arrogance or selfishness, so be it. No matter what you may think of the policies of the current administration – or the previous one or the next one – everything you enjoy today as an American was paid for by many nameless folks who practiced what I consider a valid form of patriotism.
John Quincy Adams, who saw the Revolution as a teenager, for a time acting as his father’s secretary on a diplomatic mission to Europe, and went on to become president is credited with this quote:

”Posterity – you will never know how much it has cost my generation to preserve your freedom. I hope you make good use of it.”

To me, real patriotism is not a dirty word, and is fairly simple. I was given, free of charge at birth, citizenship in what I believe is, even with all it’s failings, the best country the world has ever seen, and I’ve visited a fair number of others over the last 35 years. My job, as I see it, is to sacrifice, if necessary, to see that it is passed on to those two little boys in the picture. Mikey and Jamie are my grandsons and, in 20 years or so, they can take over. For now, though, it’s still up to Dad and Grampy.

Happy Birthday USA

God Bless America