Posts Tagged ‘4th of July’

 

We all know the common names of the authors and signers of the Declaration of Independence.  Names such as Adams, Jefferson, Franklin, Washington and of course Hancock are all synonymous with this historic document.  Not only did they craft the document that would announce to England that America was declaring independence but it meant that the signers committed treason. They were all subjects of Great Britain and they now declared to be independent and would no longer obey the laws of their home land.  In essence, they signed their own death warrants.

While some of the signers of the Declaration are etched in American history and later went on to create the Constitution of the United States, the majority of the fifty-six Declaration signers have been lost in history.  Each was unique but each had one commonality, they felt that a new nation was possible where men lived free and they would be allowed to pursue their dreams unencumbered by class standing.

One of the little known signers was John Witherspoon.  Witherspoon was a Scottish born Presbyterian minister.  He sailed to America to become president of the College of New Jersey; now Princeton.  He was influential in American education and was famous for intimidating both students and peers.

He was one of the early member of the Continental Congress and was a staunch supporter for independence.  When an individual stated that America was not yet ripe for independence, Witherspoon commented,  “In my judgment, sir, we are not only ripe, but rotting.”  During the Highlander uprising in Scotland he was captured and imprisoned thus his fervor for freedom from England was embellished in his psyche.  When the signing of the Declaration of Independence took place he was the only clergyman to ink the document.

Once war broke out Witherspoon experienced the horrors of treason and the sad reality of being a patriot.  His oldest son joined the continental army,  rose to major and was killed in the battle of Germantown.  Later that year his home was burned to the ground by the British soldiers. 

He continued to serve his new country following the end of the Revolutionary War.  Princeton had been badly damaged during the battle there.  He spent two years to help repair the damage.  Witherspoon also became a member of the New Jersey convention that was convened to ratify the constitution.

Several years after the end of the war in 1789 Witherspoon’s wife died.  She was the mother of ten Witherspoon children.  Witherspoon was then 66 years old.  Two years later at 68 Witherspoon married a 24-year old widow.  He died in 1794 but not before fathering two more children.

This is only one of the fifty-six signers of our Declaration of Independence and characterizes the character of the individuals that forged our country.

 

 

 

 

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Two hundred and forty-one years ago America was conceived by a handful of courageous men in an assembly hall in Philadelphia. Something so bold, so grand as the building of a nation in a new style takes time and massaging accompanied with changes, restarts and sometimes failure. What was born in Philadelphia on July 4th 1776 is the exception. The Constitution of the United States, the hallmark of our great Nation, the document that was originally signed on that fateful day by the brave men of the Constitutional Congress remains the Constitution of our nation with few changes. There have been over eleven thousand attempts to change or amend the Constitution; however, there have only been twenty-seven amendments added. Ten of these were added soon after ratification of the Constitution and is known as the Bill of Rights. The men who gave birth to the American Constitution got it right and the document stands as the cornerstone of our country.
America is made of varied and unique individuals. This uniqueness is what has grown our country to where we are today but it is time to act like one country and pull for the betterment of our great nation. John Kennedy, the Democratic President that was taken from us way too early, knew what our nation needed to do to confront the communist threat and move our nation forward. Let us not forget his iconic message, “Ask not what your country can do for you. Ask what you can do for your country”.
Very few of us are native to America. Even the “Native Americans” migrated to the United States over the land bridge that connected North America with Asia during an ice age thousands of years ago. It doesn’t matter if we trekked across the frozen north or were stuffed in a suffocating barbaric hold of a slave ship or endured a perilous crossing that killed many passengers only to starve in a new world or fled political oppression or gas chambers or even walked across a perilous desert for a new life or came in many other methods and for many reasons; we are here and we are here together.
It doesn’t matter what religion brought us to the country. We are a melting pot of religion. The Hebrew fleeing genocide, or the Pilgrim fleeing religious persecution, or the Muslim seeking a better life, or the Buddhist who came to America to build the railroads in the West, or the Catholic who came to spread the word of the religion when the Spanish explored the West and deep south. All of these religions are in America and living next to each other in a country that guarantees that there will be no government mandated religion and allows each person to worship or not worship as a person desires.
We are all products of our nation and the nation is a product of us. It is time that we look inward and instead of seeing what give away the nation has for us we need to see how we can give back to our country. America is full of volunteers. Our young men and women put their lives on hold to ensure that our country remains safe. Our first responders continually ”serve and protect”. Volunteers across the nation take time from their own lives to help make the country a better place for the citizens or our nation. These are the individuals we all need to mimic. Those that feel that they are entitled to a free ride need to look inward and become retrospect at what they receive and what they can give back. Put on your big boy pants and quit whining about what America is not handing out in freebees. Let’s live by the creed from the Declaration of Independence that guarantees the right to provide “the pursuit of happiness”. There is no guarantee that the government provides “happiness” only the freedom for the citizen to be able to freely pursue happiness.

 

America is a unique demographic; fiercely independent, loyal inhabitants, strength of character and very benevolent identifies attributes of the country.  Nothing epitomizes these traits more than what can be found in the small cities, towns and villages of rural America.

Two hundred and twenty-seven years ago George Washington was sworn in as the first President of the United States.  Upon taking the oath of the office, he bowed down and kissed an open Bible.  He was taking over the leadership of a country that was founded on values that were Christian in nature but also a country that would separate a state sponsored religion from the government and allow all religions to flourish without oppression or government intervention.  It was not a country that stopped a religion but it was a country that allowed all forms of religion to thrive.

This freedom of religion is no more apparent than rural North Louisiana.  Towns are filled with well-established Churches of the Christian faith while smaller Christian denominations are found in the larger cities.  Non-Christian denominations are established in the smaller cities.  Buddhist worship next to Muslims who worship next to Jews who worship next to Christians.  One of the unique qualities of America.   And part of this uniqueness is the benevolence and love that Americans shows for each other and this is nowhere more apparent than rural America.

Recently I attended a funeral for a young lady who lived in the upper part of Union Parish.  I had never met the girl but was friends with the family.  It was a work day and the service in the middle of the day.  The outpouring of affection was heartwarming as there was an overflowing of mourners and the church was filled to capacity.

Let someone in the community become ill or in need of help and watch rural America come to life.  How many calls for help have we seen and look at the love and generosity come forward?  Rural America has a tendency to take care of its’ own and social barriers of many types are torn down with the focus being on someone in need.

I love the patriotism displayed in the rural parts of our country and especially in the deep south.  When I was in college before joining the military, the country was in turmoil.  Riots and marches were taking place across America.  Instead of protesting I remember a petition being prepared to send to Washington to show support for the military.  Instead of spitting on our returning troops we welcomed them with open arms.

Today was a special day at Evergreen Baptist for the men that served in the military.  The armed forces melody was played and the members from each branch of service were asked to rise when their song was played.  The percentage of servicemen to the entire congregation was much greater than the national average of men that took up arms for America and it was quit an emotional event as the different branches of the military were greeted with applause.

The founding fathers would be proud of how America turned out when they look down on rural America.

 

Last weekend I visited the Farmerville Cemetery, armed with a handful of flags.  Each year for the 4th of July I walk among the various graves and place American Flags on the final resting place of American veterans until I run out of the small garlands.  This year I noticed that several of the graves were already decorated and it was gratifying to see families commemorating members of their families in such a way.  There are veterans from both World Wars and the Korean Conflict and you can’t but wonder what these patriots endured to ensure the freedom for our great nation.  This time my small granddaughter accompanied me as we walked among the graves.  When we finished I stood back and saw the lovely red, white and blue colors floating in the wind and this reminded me of when I was a small child and each year flags were placed on the graves of those that served.  The reverent quiet beauty does not diminish with time.  As I observed the flags it reminded me of another cemetery a thousand miles west that I will disclose at the end of this writing.

In 1846 the United States and a group from the Navajo Indian tribe entered into a loose treaty of peace.  Indian Raids continued after the treaty as was Americans entering Indian land.  Then in 1849 a better treaty was signed and America began to build forts along the tribal boundaries.  The peace lasted for a short time and by 1860 American raids on the Navaho nation increased.

In 1861 an Army unit headed by Kit Carson entered Navajo territory to force their surrender.  The unit went up beautiful Canyon de Chelly and across the Navajo lands destroying crops, livestock and humans.  Eventually the starving and dying Navajo surrendered and were sent to Fort Defiance.

In 1864 9,000 Navajo were relocated to Ft Sumner New Mexico.  The mode of transport was a walk of 300 miles across the desert.  The walk was ill prepared to take care of the Indians or their livestock.  When arriving at the final destination starvation was prevalent and many froze to death that winter.  Kit Carson continued his work as a loyal Army officer even though he was sickened of the tasks placed on him.  I read a highway monument at Gallup, New Mexico telling of Fort Wingate and how Carson had been ordered to move there with his unit to help control the Navaho.  Near Keams Canyon, Arizona I climbed a small Mesa to find a rock carving, protected by a sheet of metal roofing, where Carson had carved his name and the name of his army unit on the wall of the canyon while bringing in the Navaho.

The Navajo disdain for the American government and the settlers is no more prevalent than at the Navaho Museum in Window Rock, Arizona.  When I first entered this museum it was apparent that this lovely building and exhibits pulled no punches or sugar coated what had happened in the past.  Two treaties between the United States and the Navajo tribe were on display with the note that both of these had been broken.  Pictures of the 300 – mile march and the conditions of the early reservations were present.  The Navajo nation was suppressed, oppressed and forgotten in the deserts of the Southwest.

America entered World War II and it was apparent that it was not going to be an easy conflict.  The Japanese Imperial Army was a formable enemy and any advantage America could achieve was investigated.  The Japanese forces had many American educated members of its military and were very good at breaking American language codes that told of troop movements during the early years of the war.  In 1942 Phillip Johnson proposed the use of Navajo Indians to use their language to transmit information in the South Pacific.  Since the language was so complex and only spoken on Navajo land, it was perfect to transmit military information.  But would such an oppressed people volunteer for such a dangerous mission.  The answer was yes and between 400-500 Navajo Indians answered the call to serve America and joined the Marines.  One was captured and tortured, many times being forced to stand at attention in the snow barefooted for hours.  He never gave up the details of the code.

This was not the only tribes to be recruited and American Indians from many tribes served proudly in the American forces.  It was said of the Navajo Code breakers by   Major Howard M. Connor “Were it not for the Navajos, the Marines would never have taken Iwo Jima!”

While in Gallup, New Mexico on business I toured the Navaho land. On a bright windy Saturday Morning I was winding my way through the low mountains and hills. I topped a knoll and wound around a curve and was met with hundreds of American flags flying from what appeared to be a grave yard. I quickly U-turned, parked and got out. A large arch over the entrance to the wrought iron fenced cemetery proclaimed, Navajo Veteran Cemetery. Walking through the cemetery were the graves of Navajo who had served in all the Wars from World War II through Desert Storm. The graves were decorated with various souvenirs of their life and flying over many of these graves in the hot desert breeze was Ole Glory, the flag of the United States of America. I asked myself and continue to be amazed that a group of Americans so oppressed by their country were so very proud to have served for that country that they continually flew the flag of the United States.

This will appear in the  Bernice Banner; Union Parish, Louisiana, USA, the week of July 4th, 2016.

I have published the following article in the past in various media of both traditional papers and digital blogs. Following the recent atrocities perpetuated by ISIS, the rise of North Korea, and a potential rift between the United States and Russia the speech recorded below rings no truer than today. Until we have peace and our country is no longer in danger this article will be reproduced in honor of the birthday of our great nation each year.
In our time of instant communication we are inundated with talk shows, news programs, alerts and a myriad of communications that keep us updated on all the happenings of the world. Every once in a while a specific program or speech seems to capture the essence of the moment. I have come across a speech from a radio program that captures the magic of our nation’s birthday, the 4th of July. I hope you enjoy.
“At this time in our history when we view other nations in distress and oppression of dictatorship, the threatening clouds of war, and men lined up by the thousands to destroy with cannon, airships, and destructive machinery of every kind, not only property and lives but the fundamentals upon which True Americanism was founded, how fitting it is that we should pause from our daily pursuits to defend Americanism, to remind our neighbors, our friends and our people of their duty to protect the principles upon which real Americanism rests, with the American Flag flying over your head.
When Washington, Morris and Carol, all of different faiths and creeds, signed the immortal, everlasting document which became the tenants and creed of Americanism, they, with inspired hearts and minds, planted as the most beautiful flowers in the garden of Independence, tolerance, justice, freedom, liberty and patriotism.
So let us ,on this occasion, bind ourselves as Americans to keep alive, watching out for hidden adversaries and enemies, these elements which will forever inspire peace, happiness and tranquility to the American people and their future generations as intended by our forefathers when they founded this great republic.
Isms, false doctrines, and race or religious prejudices have no place in this country. All alike the Jews, the Gentile, the descendants of those from every land, who live in obedience to our laws, have equal rights and privileges. Let every man and good woman teach this ideal, love, tolerance and fairness to one another, practice these ideals, love, tolerance and fairness to one another, practice these ideals, love tolerance and fairness in their relationship with one another and to one another in all instances, and Americanism will live on.
In these tragic days when man’s inhumanity makes countless millions mourn, when racial and religious groups are oppressed elsewhere, persecuted by the ruthless, damnable and barbarian practices of dictatorship, when the cherished ideals of democracy are being trampled upon, there is no greater moment of importance in America than to let every man, woman and child stand as a sentinel watching for an enemy, standing as a soldier to guard the immortal principles that we have inherited, and to remember there is but one way to happiness. Love and peace can always be maintained, and that is by upholding, protecting and maintaining democracy, religious freedom and tolerance, which all summed up together are Americanism.
To his great common altar of Americanism there comes daily into this country the Jew, the Protestant and the Catholic with the best traditions of each, coming to pray that their traditional rights may always be preserved, and that the sacred altar of Americanism be preserved, and that the sacred altar of Americanism be preserved by an edict and the sanction of Almighty God will not be blemished by the polluted and bandit hand of dictatorship or false propaganda spread among our people through those who would take from us the heritage of the past and leave us with a false and cruel idol to steer us to anarchy and chaos in the future.
And why should not the Jew and the Protestant and the Catholic, together with the other various sects, come to this common altar in the great country of ours.
First and foremost it is fundamentally right. Second, we are a people who came from lands across the waters where oppression dominated at the time they came over. Third, and most important of all, highest and greatest of all the reasons we could set forth, do we not have the challenge of the old Bible. Is it not true that after all is done and said that we have but one Father? Were we not created, after all is done and said, by one and the same God?
Civil and religious liberty with the rights and privileges given us under what is known in America as The Bill of Rights, a national jewel, adopted by all of the states of these United Commonwealths, stands as a gift not only from our forefathers, but from Almighty God, as they in turn were inspired by their Creator when they wrote the Declaration of Independence and Constitution of the United States, which guarantee freedom of thought, freedom of press, freedom of religion, and personal liberty as long as it does not interfere with the rights of others, is not abused, and the laws of the country are obeyed and not entrenched upon.
To me it is necessary that the best of our people, old and young, should not forget the altar of Americanism, for when the day comes that the altar is forgotten, then America will cease to be a land of freedom.
At this common altar of Americanism let us steer the youth and the children of this historic land in order that in the days to come, when we have passed away to an unknown and, there will still remain an army and host of true Americans, plighted and pledged to uphold the ideals, the noble sentiments, the achievements and the principles of real Americans.
I thank you.”
This speech rings true in so many ways and is appropriate at a time that we celebrate our Nations birth; however, the speech was not presented recently. Nor was it given within the last decade or for that matter within the last generation. As much as this reflects our country and the challenges we face today, the speech was given on radio station KWKH in Shreveport on March 1st, 1939.

This will appear in the Farmerville Gazette and the Bernice Banner; Union Parish, Louisiana, USA, the week of July 4th, 2015.

I have published the following article in the past in various media of both traditional papers and digital blogs. Following the recent atrocities perpetuated by ISIS, the speech recorded below rings no truer than today. Until we have peace and our country is no longer in danger this article will be reproduced in honor of the birthday of our great nation each year.
In our time of instant communication we are inundated with talk shows, news programs, alerts and a myriad of communications that keep us updated on all the happenings of the world. Every once in a while a specific program or speech seems to capture the essence of the moment. I have come across a speech from a radio program that captures the magic of our nation’s birthday, the 4th of July. I hope you enjoy.
“At this time in our history when we view other nations in distress and oppression of dictatorship, the threatening clouds of war, and men lined up by the thousands to destroy with cannon, airships, and destructive machinery of every kind, not only property and lives but the fundamentals upon which True Americanism was founded, how fitting it is that we should pause from our daily pursuits to defend Americanism, to remind our neighbors, our friends and our people of their duty to protect the principles upon which real Americanism rests, with the American Flag flying over your head.
When Washington, Morris and Carol, all of different faiths and creeds, signed the immortal, everlasting document which became the tenants and creed of Americanism, they, with inspired hearts and minds, planted as the most beautiful flowers in the garden of Independence, tolerance, justice, freedom, liberty and patriotism.
So let us ,on this occasion, bind ourselves as Americans to keep alive, watching out for hidden adversaries and enemies, these elements which will forever inspire peace, happiness and tranquility to the American people and their future generations as intended by our forefathers when they founded this great republic.
Isms, false doctrines, and race or religious prejudices have no place in this country. All alike the Jews, the Gentile, the descendants of those from every land, who live in obedience to our laws, have equal rights and privileges. Let every man and good woman teach this ideal, love, tolerance and fairness to one another, practice these ideals, love, tolerance and fairness to one another, practice these ideals, love tolerance and fairness in their relationship with one another and to one another in all instances, and Americanism will live on.
In these tragic days when man’s inhumanity makes countless millions mourn, when racial and religious groups are oppressed elsewhere, persecuted by the ruthless, damnable and barbarian practices of dictatorship, when the cherished ideals of democracy are being trampled upon, there is no greater moment of importance in America than to let every man, woman and child stand as a sentinel watching for an enemy, standing as a soldier to guard the immortal principles that we have inherited, and to remember there is but one way to happiness. Love and peace can always be maintained, and that is by upholding, protecting and maintaining democracy, religious freedom and tolerance, which all summed up together are Americanism.
To his great common altar of Americanism there comes daily into this country the Jew, the Protestant and the Catholic with the best traditions of each, coming to pray that their traditional rights may always be preserved, and that the sacred altar of Americanism be preserved, and that the sacred altar of Americanism be preserved by an edict and the sanction of Almighty God will not be blemished by the polluted and bandit hand of dictatorship or false propaganda spread among our people through those who would take from us the heritage of the past and leave us with a false and cruel idol to steer us to anarchy and chaos in the future.
And why should not the Jew and the Protestant and the Catholic, together with the other various sects, come to this common altar in the great country of ours.
First and foremost it is fundamentally right. Second, we are a people who came from lands across the waters where oppression dominated at the time they came over. Third, and most important of all, highest and greatest of all the reasons we could set forth, do we not have the challenge of the old Bible. Is it not true that after all is done and said that we have but one Father? Were we not created, after all is done and said, by one and the same God?
Civil and religious liberty with the rights and privileges given us under what is known in America as The Bill of Rights, a national jewel, adopted by all of the states of these United Commonwealths, stands as a gift not only from our forefathers, but from Almighty God, as they in turn were inspired by their Creator when they wrote the Declaration of Independence and Constitution of the United States, which guarantee freedom of thought, freedom of press, freedom of religion, and personal liberty as long as it does not interfere with the rights of others, is not abused, and the laws of the country are obeyed and not entrenched upon.
To me it is necessary that the best of our people, old and young, should not forget the altar of Americanism, for when the day comes that the altar is forgotten, then America will cease to be a land of freedom.
At this common altar of Americanism let us steer the youth and the children of this historic land in order that in the days to come, when we have passed away to an unknown and, there will still remain an army and host of true Americans, plighted and pledged to uphold the ideals, the noble sentiments, the achievements and the principles of real Americans.
I thank you.”
This speech rings true in so many ways and is appropriate at a time that we celebrate our Nations birth; however, the speech was not presented recently. Nor was it given within the last decade or for that matter within the last generation. As much as this reflects our country and the challenges we face today, the speech was given on radio station KWKH in Shreveport on March 1st, 1939.

This will appear in the Bernice Banner News Paper, Bernice, Louisiana, USA.

In our time of instant communication we are inundated with talk shows, news programs, alerts and a myriad of communications that keep us updated on all the happenings of the world. Every once in a while a specific program or speech seems to capture the essence of the moment. I recently came across a speech from a radio program that captures the magic of our nation’s birthday, the 4th of July. While researching one of my books I found a letter from a prominent lawyer in New Orleans. He had written to the author of the speech and stated that he had clipped it from a newspaper for future use. The New Orleans lawyer noted that he read it in the Bernice Banner. I hope you enjoy.
“At this time in our history when we view other nations in distress and oppression of dictatorship, the threatening clouds of war, and men lined up by the thousands to destroy with cannon, airships, and destructive machinery of every kind, not only property and lives but the fundamentals upon which True Americanism was founded, how fitting it is that we should pause from our daily pursuits to defend Americanism, to remind our neighbors, our friends and our people of their duty to protect the principles upon which real Americanism rests, with the American Flag flying over your head.
When Washington, Morris and Carol, all of different faiths and creeds, signed the immortal, everlasting document which became the tenants and creed of Americanism, they, with inspired hearts and minds, planted as the most beautiful flowers in the garden of Independence, tolerance, justice, freedom, liberty and patriotism.
So let us ,on this occasion, bind ourselves as Americans to keep alive, watching out for hidden adversaries and enemies, these elements which will forever inspire peace, happiness and tranquility to the American people and their future generations as intended by our forefathers when they founded this great republic.
Isms, false doctrines, and race or religious prejudices have no place in this country. All alike the Jews, the Gentile, the descendants of those from every land, who live in obedience to our laws, have equal rights and privileges. Let every man and good woman teach this ideal, love, tolerance and fairness to one another, practice these ideals, love, tolerance and fairness to one another, practice these ideals, love tolerance and fairness in their relationship with one another and to one another in all instances, and Americanism will live on.
In these tragic days when man’s inhumanity makes countless millions mourn, when racial and religious groups are oppressed elsewhere, persecuted by the ruthless, damnable and barbarian practices of dictatorship, when the cherished ideals of democracy are being trampled upon, there is no greater moment of importance in America than to let every man, woman and child stand as a sentinel watching for an enemy, standing as a soldier to guard the immortal principles that we have inherited, and to remember there is but one way to happiness. Love and peace can always be maintained, and that is by upholding, protecting and maintaining democracy, religious freedom and tolerance, which all summed up together are Americanism.
To his great common altar of Americanism there comes daily into this country the Jew, the Protestant and the Catholic with the best traditions of each, coming to pray that their traditional rights may always be preserved, and that the sacred altar of Americanism be preserved, and that the sacred altar of Americanism be preserved by an edict and the sanction of Almighty God will not be blemished by the polluted and bandit hand of dictatorship or false propaganda spread among our people through those who would take from us the heritage of the past and leave us with a false and cruel idol to steer us to anarchy and chaos in the future.
And why should not the Jew and the Protestant and the Catholic, together with the other various sects, come to this common altar in the great country of ours.
First and foremost it is fundamentally right. Second, we are a people who came from lands across the waters where oppression dominated at the time they came over. Third, and most important of all, highest and greatest of all the reasons we could set forth, do we not have the challenge of the old Bible. Is it not true that after all is done and said that we have but one Father? Were we not created, after all is done and said, by one and the same God?
Civil and religious liberty with the rights and privileges given us under what is known in America as The Bill of Rights, a national jewel, adopted by all of the states of these United Commonwealths, stands as a gift not only from our forefathers, but from Almighty God, as they in turn were inspired by their Creator when they wrote the Declaration of Independence and Constitution of the United States, which guarantee freedom of thought, freedom of press, freedom of religion, and personal liberty as long as it does not interfere with the rights of others, is not abused, and the laws of the country are obeyed and not entrenched upon.
To me it is necessary that the best of our people, old and young, should not forget the altar of Americanism, for when the day comes that the altar is forgotten, then America will cease to be a land of freedom.
At this common altar of Americanism let us steer the youth and the children of this historic land in order that in the days to come, when we have passed away to an unknown and, there will still remain an army and host of true Americans, plighted and pledged to uphold the ideals, the noble sentiments, the achievements and the principles of real Americans.
I thank you.”
This speech rings true in so many ways and is appropriate at a time that we celebrate our Nations birth; however, the speech was not presented recently. Nor was it given within the last decade or for that matter within the last generation. As much as this reflects our country and the challenges we face today, the speech was given on radio station KWKH in Shreveport on March 1st, 1939.