Thursday, July 02, 2009

Those Cheeky Founding Fathers

Today in the car, the jedis asked about why our holiday for America is on the 4th of July. Well, my scamps love a good story, so I spun a tale for them. I told them about great men and vicious tyrants. I told them about words inflammatory enough to lead two countries to war. I told them about a vastly outmanned ragtag group of guerillas who defeated the greatest army in the world up to that time. I told them about fairness and equity and freedom. Padawan (only 4 years old, remember?) interupted when I said the date of the signing of the Declaration of Independence, "THAT is where the 4th of July comes from!"
Indeed.
I love that we don't count our country's birth from the day we were made truly united--in the mid 1860's, or from the day we fought our first major war as a country--in 1812, of from the creation of our constitution--1798, or even from some major date in the American Revolution. No, we say that our country was made on the day that WE DECLARED IT TO BE SO. When those great men signed their names to paper, committing to a cause greater than themselves; a cause that might be argued as the greatest cause ever, they said that from this day on, we are independent. And we will do whatever it takes to defend our right to say so.

I loved the first National Treasure movie. There are just so many great lines from it, but one of my very favorite is when Nick Cage's character (Ben Gates) and his buddy Riley are contemplating the Declaration at the National Archives. (A funny scene if you have been there, by the way. The archives are much smaller and darker and the Declaration is in such bad shape as to be prety much illegible.) Here is the exchange, and then Ben later comments to the curator of the archives his feelings about the men who signed this document:

Ben: Of all the words written here about freedom, there's a line here that's at the heart of all the others. "But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same object, evinces a design to reduce them under absolute despotism, it is their right, it is their duty to throw off such government and provide new guardsfor their future security."

Riley: People don't talk that way any more.

Ben: Beautiful, huh?

Riley: No idea what you said.

Ben: It means, if there's something wrong, those who have the ability to take action have the responsibility to take action.

(Later scene) Ben: A toast . . . to high treason. That's what these men were committing when they signed the Declaration. Had we lost the war, they would have been hanged, beheaded, drawn and quartered, and Oh! my personal favorite -and had their entrails cut out and burned! So, here's to the men who did what was considered wrong in order to do what they knew was right.

There are things worth dying for. And if not called upon to do so, then let us not forget there are things worth living for also.

We hold these truths to be self-evident: That ALL men are created equal. That they are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

9 comments:

Sherry said...

It's kind of a moot point, but July 4th is not really the day most of the forefathers thought we would celebrate. I read about it in one of my history classes, and there was a signer who said that a certain day would go down in history as the Big Day. I guess it doesn't really matter, but I always find it amusing. Also, have you seen the HBO series on John Adams? Adams was pretty ticked off at the guy who painted the scene of the signing.

But who cares, really? Christmas was most certainly not on December 25th. The spirit of the holiday is what's most important.

chris w said...

This is my very favorite holiday. Fabulous post.

CaLM RAPIDS said...

I love this post and grew up with a very patriotic mother who instilled a love of America in me from a very young age. Her dad (my grandpa) was born on the 4th of July and served in the Marines during WWII. She has always been proud of that and says that every morning in the shower he sang the Marine Fight Song. He had a strong booming voice that served him well in the Tabernacle Choir as well as raising 10 kids.

And I love those lines from National Treasure as well.

p.s. Chris has been Bishop for almost 3 years now. My how time flies.

Kimberly Bluestocking said...

I love National Treasure. It's a fun movie with a good heart.

And I love your point that we celebrate not the day when we achieved our independence, but the day we declared our determination to stand together and make it happen.

Jenny said...

Most excellent of you to teach your young jedi about patriotism and our founding fathers. Emulate your feelings they will.
Happy Independence!

Rainie said...

I need to teach my kids this year more in depth the history of the holiday. I love how you made it a great story for them, they'll definately remember it that way. Happy 4th of July!!!

Princess Consuela Bananahammock said...

You're so fun. And I love how you make American history fun, too. :) That's one thing that really helped me understand just how unique our country is. My parents have always been somewhat patriotic (not die-hards, but very respectful), and now I can say I'm the same. Thank God we live in the U.S.A. and not "British America."

Sunnie said...

i bet you do tell a good story. and your kids will remember that way more than a bunch of facts. there really is something fascinating about history.

Anonymous said...

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