We celebrate our birthday today. Yet there are so many other days we might have chosen.
We don’t celebrate the Birth of A Nation on the anniversary of that first disorganized and hastily-mounted insurgency we now call Patriot’s Day, April 19, 1775. But we could. That’s where it all began.
Nor do we honor the day, June 14 of the same year, we began to field an army of resistance when the “Continental” Congress authorized 10 rifle companies as the core of the “Continental” Army.
We don’t celebrate as our birthday the
following day, June 15, when Congress appointed a leader for this
army, a former British Lt
And we don’t celebrate our birthday on
October 19, which, 6 years and 6 months to the day after the shot heard
’round the world, was the day of the capitulation of Lord Cornwallis to
Of course, all we achieved with the end of
the Revolutionary War was freedom from British rule. There was still no
“nation” birthed, just a bunch of insurgents who fought together to gain
freedom from something, not to create something. That would
have to wait six more years, until – finally -- The Constitution of the
June 14, 15, or 21.
Each could vie for its logical position as
Penning such inspiring words meant nothing without the will and the capability to back it up – and we certainly seemed to have none of the latter. July 4th could have been just another day of the year and this precious document become hollow and lost forever, one more folly by head-in-the-clouds dreamers. It, and we, could have been stillborn.
And that is precisely why July 4th
should be celebrated as our birthday. It is a celebration of dreams
and courage and moxie. It required big dreams and big courage to even say
those words to the world’s most powerful nation. It is remarkable for the
sheer brassiness of it, a brassiness and naivete and
roll-up-our-sleeves-and-get-it-done attitude that characterized Americans
then and now. Many in The Old World still shake their heads at
July 4th may be the most illogical of all the days mentioned above to celebrate as a birthday. How dare we declare ourselves a nation with such a pitiful and under-fed army, no executive, no judiciary, no rules of commerce, and a congress that couldn’t agree on anything except the source of their discontent?
But we did. And damn if we didn’t succeed.
We didn’t succeed because of our brilliance on the battlefield – we lost almost every substantial engagement. We didn’t succeed because of our radiant diplomacy – most of the time, we alienated our friends or underwhelmed them with our bickering and provincialism. Thank God for Dr. Franklin.
We succeeded by luck, by pluck, and by the absolute commitment that gave no room for retreat, denial, or defeat. This is our birthday because it is the day we pledged ourselves to each other and to posterity. There can be no finer birthday gift from any single group of men to the millions who followed than the one enshrined in the final words of the Declaration ratified 230 years ago today: “…for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of Divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes and our sacred Honor.”
posted by J. Shaefer at http://jlshaefer.blogspot.com/