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America's Independence Day: Then and Today

How will you celebrate this 4th of July 2014? Are you planning to hit the beach, or maybe just sleep in a few extra hours? Will you get together with family and friends, then possibly enjoy a backyard bar-b-que? Will you enjoy an afternoon game of horseshoes, or take the boat out and find a nice quiet place to eat a picnic lunch? Will you use the day to cut the grass, or maybe get caught up on a few things that you neglected to do?

 

These are all just a few of the things that many of the people I know, either have done in past years, or are planning on doing this year, on the two hundred and thirty eighth annual observance of America's Independence Day from England. This year, millions of people will participate in the previously mentioned activities. The sad thing is that many will at the exclusion of everything else.

 

When I was a boy, we engaged in all of these activities, but they happened AFTER the 4th of July Parade, never instead of. This year, like every other before it; our family will start our Independence Day celebration by first attending our local parade.

 

Growing up in a close-knit community, everybody in my hometown either participated in the parade, or lined up along the streets to watch it. It was un-American, we thought, not to remember all the generations that went before us, who carved out this nation from a frontier and a wilderness. It was un-American, we thought, not to give thanks to God who built this nation with our hands.

 

When the American flag came by, everyone got out of their lawn chairs, and rose to their feet. They stood out of respect and a deep sense of patriotic pride! Men would remove their hats, and people would place their right hands over their hearts. Even those too feeble to stand, would make a valiant effort to rise to their feet, and stand quivering, holding cane or walker to salute the flag. It was a different time, and the men and women of my hometown set a great example to their children about Honor, and time tested American Values.

 

The parade would culminate at a local school, where the town would gather in front of a podium and raised platform. When the school bands, Girl Scouts, Boy Scouts, Veteran Groups, and Civic Organizations had gathered in an assembly, we would open in prayer. Several speeches followed that made you proud to be an American, and humbled to be the current recipients of the tremendous blessings our nation enjoyed.

 

I learned just as much American History from listening to these prayers and speeches, and from talking with veterans of the great wars our country had fought, as I did in public schools. I knew I was part of something special. That one day, I too, would be entrusted as a Citizen, to be counted among the guardians of our Liberty. To me, the 4th of July has always been as much about learning American history, as it has been celebrating it.

 

Marching On To The Revolution: 1763

 

British victory in the French and Indian War came at a price. After the war, King George III and the British government looked to recoup their war costs by taxing the American colonies. They were also looking for ways to regain some of the lost control over the colonial governments which had become increasingly more independent while England was distracted by the war.

 

The crown's ineptitude in actions such as the Stamp Act (1765), the Townsend Act (1767), and the Boston Massacre (1770) only served to further strain relations, and agitate the colonists. However, it was the clever plan gone sour, or taxing tea, that spurred the colonists to action and laid the ground work for the American Revolution.

 

When the colonies refused to pay levies required by the Townsend Act, claiming they had no obligation to pay taxes imposed by a government which did not represent them, Parliament concocted a devious plan. They gave the East India Company a monopoly on importing tea to America. Parliament then reduced the duty tax the colonies had to pay for importing the tea. The colonies could now get their tea (a staple of colonial life) cheaper than ever before!

 

The rub was this: If the colonies paid the duty tax on the now super discounted tea, they would be acknowledging Parliament's right to tax them! The government assumed the colonies would rather pay the tax, than deny themselves the pleasure of a cup of tea. They thought wrong.

 

The colonists were not fooled by Parliament's trick. When the East India Company sent shipments of tea to Philadelphia and New York, the ships were not permitted to land. In Charleston, ships were given permission to dock, but their cargo of tea was consigned to warehouses where they remained for over three years, until it was later sold in order to help finance the revolution

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In Boston, we saw the now famous, but furious reaction, when three ships arrived carrying tea. On December 16, 1773, approximately 7,000 angry locals gathered about Griffin's wharf where the ships were docked. The crowd's intent was to have the ships leave harbor without the payment of any duty tax. A committee was organized to make this demand, but the Collector of Customs refused to allow the ship to leave without payment of the duty.

 

By early evening, history was in motion. Patriots such as George Hewes, Leonard Pitt, and a group of 200 other colonists, many of whom were dressed as Indians and carrying hatchets; painted their face and hands with coal dust to further the disguise. Despite being surrounded by British war ships, they boarded all three vessels containing the tea, chopped open the crates, and dumped the tea into the harbor. The 90,000 pounds of tea was so thickly floating on top of the water, that the men in the row boats had to chop the tea with their oars to make sure none could be salvaged.

 

The Boston Tea Party, as it would later become known, was met with swift and vehement reaction in London. In March 1774 Parliament passed the Intolerable Acts, which among other measures, closed the Port of Boston until the cost of the tea could be reimbursed by the colonists. When three wealthy merchants attempted to pay for the destroyed tea, their offer was flatly refused! The fuse to the powder keg of America's independence had been lit.

 

A Great American Tradition

 

Properly celebrating America's Independence Day is among our great American traditions. So is reading the Declaration of Independence with your children or to some neighborhood kids. There are many younger members of our communities that have not been taught the true "Why" and the "How" America came to be.

 

There are those among us today who want to rewrite our history, and hide from current generations the truth that our founding fathers believed in Divine Providence (a concept that emphasizes the depravity of man, and the complete sovereignty of God, and His superintendence over the events in people's lives and throughout history).

 

"We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. - That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, - That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness."

 

If you have never read the entire Declaration, please go to www.onug.us and read it under the "Education Section". It is a duty and an obligation every Citizen must undertake to more fully appreciate this National Day of Remembrance. 

 

Independence Day commemorates the signing of the Declaration of Independence, by the Continental Congress, on July 4, 1776, in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

 

At the time of the signing, America consisted of the 13 original colonies, and was under the rule of England, and King George III. There was a growing concern and rising civil unrest about the taxes England demanded them to pay.

The colonists felt as if they had no representation in the English Parliament and commonly referred to their financial exploitation as "Taxation without Representation". As the unrest increased, and colonists voiced their displeasure, signing petition after petition; England's response was to send more troops, as a message that they would quell any colonial rebellion.

 

On April 19, 1775 in the early morning hours, approximately 70 American Colonists (townsmen, property owners, and workers) stood their ground against 600 smartly dressed British soldiers, who were assembled into battle lines, at Lexington, Massachusetts, (close to Boston). The British had come to investigate reports that the colonists were stockpiling weapons in Concord.

Captain Parker ordered his men to "Stand your ground!" Heavily outnumbered, Parker said, "If they want war, let it begin here!" After a long standoff, Parker realized the small American contingent could not defeat such a large opposition. He ordered the Americans to disband; but the British commander, Major Atcairn, had orders to take the American's weapons. A small skirmish broke out. Parker was killed, and seven other Americans were shot in the back as they tried to flee. The Battle of Lexington was over, and with it the stage for American's Revolution had been set.

 

The King's troops went on to advance on Concord, Massachusetts. Paul Revere would sound the alarm that "The British are coming, the British are coming" as he rode his horse through the late night streets.

The battle of Concord and its "shot heard round the world"  would mark the unofficial beginning of the colonies' war for Independence.

 

The following May the colonies again sent delegates to the Second Continental Congress. For almost a year, Congress tried to work out its differences with England, again without formally declaring war.

 

By June 1776 their efforts had become hopeless and a committee was formed to compose a formal declaration of independence. Headed by Thomas Jefferson, the committee included Robert R. Livingston, Roger Sherman, John Adams, and Benjamin Franklin. Thomas Jefferson was chosen to write the first draft which was presented to the congress on June 28. After various changes, a vote was taken late in the afternoon of July 4th. Of the 13 colonies, 9 voted in favor of the Declaration, 2 - Pennsylvania and South Carolina voted "No", Delaware voted "undecided", and New York abstained.

 

To make it official John Hancock, President of the Continental Congress, signed the Declaration of Independence. It is said that John Hancock signed his name "with a great flourish" so "King George can read that without spectacles!"

 

The following day copies of the Declaration were distributed. The first newspaper to print the Declaration was the Pennsylvania Evening Post, on July 6, 1776. On July 8th, the Declaration had its first public reading in Philadelphia's Independence Square. Twice that day, the Declaration was read to cheering crowds and pealing church bells. Even the bell in Independence Hall was rung. The "Province Bell" would later be renamed "Liberty Bell" after its inscription:

 

"Proclaim Liberty Throughout All the Land Unto All the Inhabitants Thereof" (Leviticus 25:10)

 

And although the signing of the Declaration was not completed until August, the 4th of July has been accepted as the official anniversary of the United States' independence. The first Independence Day celebration took place the following year, on July 4, 1777.

 

By the early 1800's, the traditions of town parades, family picnics, and local fireworks were all well established as the people's way to celebrate America's birthday.

 

This 4th of July 2014, continue a great American Tradition: Read our Declaration of Independence, share it and some American history with your children, and some neighborhood kids. Fly our flag in front of your home, don some patriotic clothing, attire yourself in red, white, and blue; then participate in, or set up your lawn chairs to spectate, your town's American Independence Day Parade! There is no finer way to celebrate the tremendous blessings and liberty, which Almighty God has bestowed upon our great nation: The United States of America!

 

Remember: "Now the Lord is that Spirit: and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is Liberty" (2 Corinthians 3:17)!!!

 

Have a Great Independence Day!

 

May God continue to bless the people of the United States of America!

 

In Jesus' Name and

For God and My Country,

Bob Brown 
One Nation Under God U.S.A.

www.onug.us 

 

STAND UP, STAND OUT, AND MAKE A DIFFERENCE!

Join One Nation Under God U.S.A. Today!

Because we need God in America again!

 

"Government is not reason, it is not eloquence, it is force; like fire, a troublesome servant and a fearful master. Never for a moment should it be left to irresponsible action."

            - President George Washington