Monday, July 4, 2011

Happy Independence Day

Like most United States citizens, I celebrate this day as one commemorating the establishment of this country.  It is the day that we have chosen as a nation to honor our separation from Great Britain, to stand or fall on our own as an independent nation.

The process of establishing our independence was just that, a process.  It did not happen in a day.  In fact, this day, July 4th, was not the day the declaration of independence was signed, nor, is it the day the writing of it was completed, but, it is the day in which the Continental Congress voted to accept the document as a declaration of our separation from Great Britain.  The official signing ceremony was almost a month later.

The 4th is celebrated with many symbols of this great republic -- note that I said, "Republic" not democracy.  We see flags scattered everywhere, we recite the Pledge of Allegiance, we sing The Star Spangled Banner and other patriotic songs.  These are wonderful symbols, but, none of them existed on July 4, 1776.  The "Pledge" was written in 1892 by Francis Bellamy and included the following:

"I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America, and to the republic for which it stands, one nation, indivisible, with liberty, and justice for all."

It is interesting to note that Bellamy was a Baptist minister and a Christian Socialist.  The words "under God" were added in 1954 by Congress after a campaign  by the Knights of Columbus.

The first "Flag Act" of the Continental Congress was passed on June 14, 1777. 

"Resolved, That the flag of the United States be made of thirteen stripes, alternate red and white; that the union be thirteen stars, white in a blue field, representing a new Constellation."

The Star Spangled Banner was written by Francis Scott Key after U.S. soldiers at Fort Henry, near Baltimore, raised a large flag during the war of 1812.  The flag they raised consisted of 15 stars and 15 stripes.
I think our founding fathers would be gratified to see the celebration of our nation on this day, however, they would be concerned by the lack of knowledge of our citizenry and likely mortified by the present state of our nation.  After all, a tyrannical government was the object of their revolt.  Thankfully, they created a government structure that contains the tools for correcting any tyranny that may develop.  The key one being the vote. 
I am proud to be a citizen of this country, but, I am saddened by its current state.  My celebration this year will be somewhat subdued.

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