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Happy Birthday, America

On this day two hundred and thirty eight years ago, a band of brave patriots published a document which would have huge impact the world over.  Representatives of the Thirteen Colonies met in Philadelphia to approve The Declaration of Independence, severing their subservient relationship with the British Crown and with its publication a struggle for freedom of David and Goliath proportions began.

Despite all of the patriotic fervor and anger with King George for treating his subjects like serfs, there were still many in this land who did not want to battle the British.  There were multiple reasons for this: fear, loyalty to the homeland, and financial arrangements among others, but the minority who led the cause for freedom eventually secured a sufficient number of colonists to man the Continental Army.  And it didn’t hurt that they eventually had George Washington of Virginia to lead the fledgling nation in battle, a man of vision and honor who realized that it was his destiny from God to lead this original band of brothers.

Things didn’t go well at first with some loyalists providing the British with information on leaders of the rebellion.  This resulted in horrific retribution against these men and their families for their actions.  A good example of this was the group of patriots who followed Francis Marion, the Swamp Fox, so named because he would strike swiftly and then retreat into the dense South Carolina swamps where the English were fearful to follow.  These patriots suffered horribly as many of their family members were brutally massacred, some burned alive, and all family possessions and property stolen, sacked or destroyed.

And, of course, we all know that the open battlefield skirmishes were dismal and bloody failures for the Americans at first, bringing Washington and his often threadbare troops within a whisker of total defeat.  Finally the crossing of the Delaware with Washington’s surprise assault on Trenton was a brilliant success and shock waves reverberated all the way to London.   This kept his Army in the war and, following a long and bloody struggle, it was on to Yorktown and the surrender of Lord Cornwallis in October 1781.  American folklore says that the British band struck up the British song, “The World Turned Upside Down” although that can’t be fully authenticated.

The United States really didn’t have a settled government structure until 1789 since much give and take was needed between the large and small states and the Northern and Southern factions in order to gain agreement.  The in-between Articles of Confederation allowed for the nation to stay together although there were difficulties.  It wasn’t an easy thing to set up a government that was both free and democratic while maintaining protections for the minority as well.  The checks and balances were designed to insure that America truly would be a land where an elected body, not a king or a despot, would control the ship of state subject to the voting choices of the citizenry.

Following those founding days, the United States grew into the greatest nation on earth and has been looked to by freedom seeking people everywhere as a beacon of hope and inspiration.  But, as Alexis de Tocqueville said so elegantly in his masterpiece, Democracy in America, something seems to have gone wrong in recent years.  The willpower, determination, and dedication to hard work is lost today in so many of us, often caused by soft living and the belief in promises made by self-serving politicians who are more interested in retaining their power than in securing the future of the country.  As that great French writer surmised, when a population in a democratic environment gets to the point where those who have not realize they can vote themselves a pay raise at the cost of those who have, trouble begins.  This seems to be where we are headed unless we as a society come alive with a new rendition of the Spirit of 1776.

We Americans must look at the wonder of what our Founders did for us, designing a system which, with God’s help, has been a model for all to see.  And the haves worked hard with the sweat of their brow to gain those things they have and they are also generous with their riches with those who are needy when the government leaves them free to produce and grow.  That is what those without need to strive for, not from a handout, but a hand up which will propel them also to success and wealth.  That is the Spirit of 1776 which combines the Holy Spirit and the American Spirit with a level of energy and perseverance which cannot be denied.  It worked before and it will work again as well.

So I hope that all Americans on this Independence Day will take the time to look at the courage and brilliant but difficult work of our Founders and redouble our own efforts to do our part to push onward and upward for liberty.  Individualism, freedom and capitalism, when combined in a fair and honest way is the only way we will regain our footing and with God’s help we can do so.  Government is never the source of production, it is merely a user of some of the fruits of productive labor and if it focuses on those requirements which were called for in the Constitution, most importantly national security, while expunging so much of the waste and abuse, the richness and bountiful goods and services which this country can produce will once again lead us to renewed prominence.

Thank God for this land that we love and let us use this glorious day, a day when we remember our great heritage and purpose, to reenergize ourselves as Americans, including liberals, moderates and conservatives to bind ourselves together for the most valiant cause of them all: freedom under God.

Happy Birthday, America.

James Dick

Website: www.northfloridawriter.com

Book site: www.outskirtspress.com/honeyweshouldaboughttheark

Author of Honey, We Shoulda’ Bought the Ark, a true story of life with a wide array of animals in God’s glorious rural America

 

Memorial Day 2014: Remember the Fallen

At the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month of the year of Our Lord 1918, the guns fell silent in France.  A truce signifying the end of the “War to End All Wars” brought with it an uneasy, yet peaceful serenity to the thousands of soldiers, Allied Forces and Germans, who hadn’t had quiet in their lives in years.  Tragically, life for the 116,000 dead Americans was ended in their early prime.

While it took a considerable period of time for the Articles of Peace to be formulated, the end result was good for soldiers but ultimately tragic for the world.  The proud German people were basically held responsible for all aspects of the war and treated accordingly.  And with the upcoming economic disaster known as the Great Depression, the world created the very seed for a much more expanded and even more bitter contest to unfold in a mere twenty years.

With the exception of the Civil War, where Americans fought against their own brothers and cousins, World War II by far had the highest death total, over 400,000.  And this number does not include those who were lost and never found in the swamps of Guadalcanal or in the snows of Bastogne.  Almost every family in America was touched by the tragedy of this war on two fronts and it was one that all hoped would never be repeated.

Sadly, since that time America has been involved in many conflicts, the most noteworthy being Vietnam (over 58,000 deaths), Korea (over 36,000), Iraq (4800) and Afghanistan (almost 3400 and still growing) plus a large number of smaller conflicts which also resulted in death.  Despite all of the death, and the heretofore unmentioned large number of maimed and wounded who survived and suffered through these conflicts, we today once again find the world filled with hatred and animosity and the prospect of further conflict ever present in our minds.

So I would urge every American to honor those who gave the ultimate sacrifice for each of us and our fellow countrymen, for as long as man lives on this earth there will be conflicts for which we must maintain a standing force of brave men and women ready and willing to answer the call of duty.

What can you do to honor our dead?  Visit a military cemetery, participate in a Memorial Day service or event, fly your flag proudly, and thank those who have sacrificed for us.  Each of us has a neighbor or friend who has sacrificed their time and in many cases their physical well- being for our freedom and they deserve our sincere gratitude and respect. Don’t forget to tell them.

And there is one other thing we need to do.  We need to pray to our Lord for the care of those who have suffered, for their families and for the souls of those departed. Won’t you join me in prayer?

Dear Lord:  We thank you for always being available to talk with you and seek your guidance through prayer and we beseech you to help us find a way to end the pain and suffering that so many of our fine young men and women face due to never ending war.  Hatred, anger and bitterness, all of which are a waste of good energy and contrary to what you would have us do, is so prevalent today and we each must reach into our inner selves and, with the help of the Holy Spirit, find forgiveness and peace.

We know that you love those who died in support of their country and that war is not of your doing but just another of the sins that we mere mortals have created with the free will granted to us. But help us to be strong in searching within our conscience and ridding ourselves of the very traits that, on a societal level, allow for war to take place.

And please remember those living veterans who are suffering from war wounds, both physical and mental, and help our government officials to provide the care that they have been promised, not instead using their positions to further their own careers and fortune. Help them see the light and turn to you for the strength they need to listen to you and follow you in all that they do.

Finally, help our enemies to also find peace and tranquility and a willingness to come to solutions short of warfare, but help us to always be vigilant against those who do not seek peace honestly but instead use temporary periods of peace to plan for more and greater bloodshed.  Let us always stand strong and resolute against such action.

Lord keep all of our military safe, be with them in their good and bad times and enter their hearts and souls to guide them in the difficult tasks that they are called upon to do.  Be with them forever and with the rest of us as well.  We pray in your Holy name, Amen.

Never forget what our heroes have done for us and honor them always. Enjoy this special holiday with picnics and relaxation time with family and friends but always put those who did so much for us first in our hearts and minds on this day.  Happy Memorial Day 2014 to everyone and may Old Glory ever fly free as a symbol of what America truly means.

James Dick

Hawthorne, Florida

Website: www.northfloridawriter.com

Book page: www.amazon.com/author/jamesdick or

www.outskirtspress.com/honeyweshouldaboughttheark

Author: Honey, We Shoulda’ Bought the Ark