I am taking a break today to recognize the 4th of July, celebrated in the United States. That day, a general Congress declared independence from England. However, as any teenager can attest, a declaration of independence is not the same as actual independence. The Revolutionary War continued until 1781, with many setbacks and great uncertainty as to who would prevail.
Three of my forebears(as one of my daughters once said, “I know the three bears, but who are the four bears?”) fought in the Revolutionary War on the side of the colonists. Daniel Whitney of Connecticut, Jeremiah Carpenter of New York and Oliver Stewart of Massachusetts all took up arms against the British.
They were farmers, not soldiers, and they fought with ragtag outfits and varied weapons against the greatest empire of the world at the time. It is surprising that they triumphed, a surprise I think they would have shared with their neighbors and families. I imagine them coming back to their apple orchards, crops and livestock after they were done fighting. Nothing much would have changed in their lives. Individually they wouldn’t have had much to show for their service.
Still, they worked together for a common good, one that seemed far out of reach, an independent nation, free of external control. I hope this July 4th that Americans can once again put aside their individual ideas of exactly how this country should be and join in a common vision. This time as a place which values freedom of the press, holds the office of President in high esteem, respects the checks and balances that the authors of the Constitution designed after the War was over, and knows that together is the only way we will survive as a nation. Daniel, Jeremiah and Oliver would say “amen.”