Patriotism and Honor
Julie B. Forbes
June 29, 2000
As I prepare for the weekend, I am excited. My older brother will be coming in town whom I haven't seen in over two years. Our family is planning and decorating so that we can enjoy a fabulous afternoon in the sun. Refreshments, food, sunscreen, plates, cups, napkins, bathing suits, and pool paraphernalia have been found and are ready for launch. It is the 4th of July.
Although I am excited, I am also feeling a bit disconnected. I know I should be full of gratitude and respect toward the individuals who risked it all for our freedom in this awesome country, America. I remember feeling excited about the 4th of July and it's meaning when I was in the 5th grade. The teachers had a way of relaying the events and the valor of the men and women who changed the course of history, and therefore directly affected the course of my own life. I remember when I was fifteen, the onslaught of patriotic feature specials that hit the T.V. daily for a week preceding the 4th of July. The day had its place in my heart and one would have thought it would continue forever. My father and my mother taught me to be grateful that I was born in a land that allows us to be free. They love this country and with great passion they took on the responsibility of passing that love onto my siblings and myself.
Is that the answer to my disconnectedness in regards to this 4th of July 2000? I have to do the work myself and rediscover the meaning, the sacrifice, the pain and the bravery that this holiday encompasses. Rediscover the fact that, of the 56 men who signed the Declaration of Independence, one Thomas McKean of Delaware was so harassed by the enemy that he was forced to move his family five times in five months. He served in Congress without pay, his family in poverty and in hiding. When Carter Braxton of Virginia signed the Declaration of Independence, he was a wealthy planter and trader; but thereafter he saw his ships swept from the seas and to pay his debts, he lost his home and all of his property and he died in rags. Thomas Heyward, Jr. was captured when Charleston fell. John Hart was driven from his wife's bedside while she was dying; their thirteen children fled in all directions for their lives. His fields and gristmills were laid waste. For more than a year he lived in forests and caves and returned home after the War to find his wife dead, his children gone, his properties gone. He died a few weeks later of exhaustion and a broken heart. (1)
It is my responsibility to my country and my children to re-instate the pride and the patriotism of this holiday in all its glory. To carry it until the next generation can and in doing this, the 4th of July regains it's true meaning; a revolution had begun because a country had bravely declared it's Independence. Have a great time this holiday paying tribute to those patriots of the past, the freedoms you enjoy today and the freedoms your children will enjoy beyond tomorrow. Happy Birthday America!
(1.) Heintz, James R. 4th of July History, Washington Archives, 1999
This article copyright © 2000 by Julie B. Forbes and may not be reproduced in any form without the express written consent of its author. All rights reserved.