I grew up with a father who constantly had one foot in the 17 or 1800's and the other in the present…well, to be quite honest, sometimes both feet were in the 1800's. Reenacting was always a part of my life because he was immersed in it. Tri-corn hats, muskets, loin clothes…the whole nine yards.
Because of his love for history, my life was steeped in it. Whether it was the bedtime stories of Jemimiah Boone or Sacajawea, or it was family vacations where we stopped at a historical landmark/museum/battlefield every one hundred miles, I learned more history than most kids. In Social Studies class I already knew the stories. I knew about Antietam and Gettysburg and the surrender at Appomattox because I had been there, walked the fields, and heard the stories pour out of my father like water. I knew about the Treaty of Paris and was ahead of my classmates when I knew there was a French and Indian War. The battle at Bunker Hill, and Cowpens…the names and places are in my brain even still.
That is why today, Independence Day, is less about fireworks and more about history to me. I grew up with the flag flying high at my house, and sometimes it was the flag of the thirteen colonies. I understood the beautiful significance of that flag because I had gone to a battlefield with my dad and saw men pretending to fight the British for the right to fly it.
John Adams predicted in a letter to his wife that this independence would be celebrated for generations, saying:
The second day of July, 1776, will be the most memorable epoch in the history of America. I am apt to believe that it will be celebrated by succeeding generations as the great anniversary festival. It ought to be commemorated as the day of deliverance, by solemn acts of devotion to God Almighty. It ought to be solemnized with pomp and parade, with shows, games, sports, guns, bells, bonfires, and illuminations, from one end of this continent to the other, from this time forward forever more.
The battles are not over. There are some men and women that do not have to reenact to face guns and war. But our freedom is still intact. Our forefathers believed in fighting for this country-- believed in a country where we are free to live and worship and continue to fight for our freedoms.
If you have ever travelled to another country, you know how incredibly blessed we are here. You have seen the extreme poverty that our poorest couldn't even fathom. You have smuggled in Bibles just so someone may know there is a God who loves him. You have bought bottle after bottle of water because there is no clean water to be found. You have worshipped in private homes with the fear of being thrown in jail.You know how incredibly blessed we are here.
Even if you didn't grow up with a father who read to you from the journals of Lewis and Clark, and even if you didn't go to battlefields instead of beaches on family vacations, you can appreciate our history.
You can appreciate this holiday.
You can appreciate our soldiers.
You can appreciate this country.
Happy Independence Day!