July 4th is celebrated as Independence Day in the United States. As with independence of any sort, it was born out of conflict and ended in a revolution from the status quo. Since I’ve been short on time, most of the rest of this post is taken from one done in 2013, titled American Independence by the Numbers….with a few current observations thrown in for good measure.
Let’s begin with an interesting Q&A on the streets. Spoiler alert: this is 6 minutes and 45 seconds of shocking answers to questions that should have been super simple for any American over the age of 16. Clueless would be an understatement to describe these poor souls…except for the last two interviewees who nailed it. And I wonder, has our education system failed so completely that most people are completely devoid of knowledge of the birth of our country? Or, do they just not care? Either way, it’s truly a sad state of affairs. And I also wonder, since they know so little about the events and circumstances surrounding why patriots fought so hard, would there be any desire to defend our country’s freedoms to that extent in the future if necessary. Or, would they simply roll over and surrender in oblivious and blind allegiance to any tyrannical group that tries to eliminate what our founding fathers/mothers fought so hard to obtain? Truly a head scratcher.
So, with that piece of misery out of the way, let’s review some basic American Revolutionary War history.
The day the first shots were fired in our nation’s quest for independence from England. It happened that morning in Lexington, Massachusetts.
Do not fire on them unless they fire first, but if they want a war, let it begin here.
~American Captain Parker, Battle of Lexington
The number of colonies that fought in the Revolutionary War.
Yesterday the greatest question was decided… and a greater question perhaps never was nor will be decided among men. A resolution was passed without one dissenting colony, that these United Colonies are, and of right ought to be, free and independent states.
The number of troops that were engaged in the fighting.
The die is now cast; the colonies must either submit or triumph…. we must not retreat.
~King George III, In a letter to Lord North, 1774
Number of military “engagements” during the war.
We must all hang together, or most assuredly we shall hang separately.
~Benjamin Franklin at the signing of the Declaration of Independence
Age of the youngest members of the Continental Army, serving mainly as cooks and messengers.
The battle, Sir, is not to the strong alone; it is to the vigilant, the active, the brave.
~Patrick Henry, speech at the Virginia Convention, 1775
4,435 or 6,824 (depending on the source)
The number of colonist casualties during the war.
Is life so dear or peace so sweet as to be purchased at the price of chains and slavery? Forbid it, Almighty God. I know not what course others may take, but as for me, give me liberty or give me death!
~Patrick Henry, speech in the Virginia Convention, 1775
Total British casualties from battle and disease in the Revolutionary War.
I never saw such fighting, since God made me.
~Lord Charles Cornwallis, Battle of Guilford Court House
The year Great Britain acknowledged America’s independence with the signing of the Treaty of Paris. The treaty established the nation’s northern boundary along the Canadian border and the western border as the Mississippi River.
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.
Our Founding Fathers risked everything to make their idealistic view of freedom from tyranny and oppression a reality. Their resulting actions were a burden on not only them, but their families as well. But they held firm to their beliefs, regardless of personal well-being and even death.
Posterity — you will never know how much it has cost my generation to preserve your freedom. I hope you will make good use of it.
~ John Quincy Adams
As we all celebrate Independence Day with picnics, fireworks, pie, ice cream and other festivities, may we always remember the great men and women who sacrificed, at great personal loss, to achieve the freedom we sometimes nonchalantly take for granted today. May we continue to preserve the rights and freedoms of this country for generations to come.
A general dissolution of the principles and manners will more surely overthrow the liberties of America than the whole force of the common enemy…While the people are virtuous they cannot be subdued; but once they lose their virtue, they will be ready to surrender their liberties to the first external or internal invader…If virtue and knowledge are diffused among the people, they will never be enslaved. This will be their great security.
I believe Sam spoke very true words, that are as applicable today as they were 200+ years ago. And, I’ll take this a step further and compare the recent Brexit vote as one where the British people took a stand not totally unlike those previous British subjects.
Freedom and independence is painful. It’s a gift many people in the world will never receive under their current government. It’s messy and complicated.
And totally worth it.
I wish every American a Happy Independence Day, and hope there is an opportunity to pause and reflect on both the blessings we have because of our freedoms, and the responsibilities we haven to preserve them.