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Thursday, July 5, 2012

What's In A Name?

You will seldom hear me wishing anyone a happy fourth of July. It's just one of my things. It isn't about the sentiment. This holiday has very deep meaning for me. It's the wording. Do we say, "Happy January First!" Not usually, I imagine. Has anyone ever wished you a happy last Thursday in November, or do they use the word Thanksgiving? For me, the words the Fourth of July simply say what date it is. I like to say Happy Independence Day.

On Independence Day, I spend a lot of time reflecting on how this country came to be. I think about a group of men who promised each other that no colony would be forced into revolt against the British; unless the Declaration was accepted unanimously, it would not be accepted at all. The colonists had come to find their government intolerable. They were given the responsibilities of British citizens, like paying taxes, but didn't get the rights that most British citizens had.

The founding fathers bravely did something that had not been done before. They wrote a document that listed all of the reasons that they no longer wanted to be subjects of King George III, or a part of England. And they ended the document with this beautiful and incredible statement: And 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. They knew that what they were doing was considered high treason and punishable by death. Their lives, families, and property could all be lost if England was victorious, but their conviction was strong enough for them to be willing to lose everything. Thinking about this really humbles me. How incredible to have that kind of dedication to such a noble cause.

And all through this time, and after, the Revolutionary War was being fought by men who were not professional soldiers. They did not have beautiful uniforms and polished boots like the British soldiers. In fact, many of them had no shoes at all. But they had a brave and intelligent General named George Washington, and assistance from France and others to fight the British. On September 3rd of 1783, a treaty between England and the United States of America was signed. A new country was officially recognized by its parent nation. At the risk of sounding schmaltzy, I will tell you that I love this country. We certainly are far from perfect, as every country is. But we have such incredible freedoms here. So many things that we take for granted on a daily basis are not always seen elsewhere, and my own family's background makes me all too aware of that.

So do you think I am a kook for wanting to call it Independence Day? Shakespeare said that a rose by any other name would smell as sweet. But I still like the sound of Independence Day.