Celebrate the Fourth by mending the nation's fabric
Thursday, July 4, 2019
As the story goes, our Founding Fathers declared their independence from their mother country 243 years ago today, that the “united colonies are, and of right, ought to be free and Independent States; that they are absolved from all allegiance to the British Crown.”
It is a day that John Adams said should be celebrated with “pomp and parade, with shews, games, sports, guns, bells, bonfires and illuminations from one end of this continent to the other from this time forward forever more.”
Of course creating a new country was not as easy as signing a piece of paper, whether it was that one or the Halifax Accords signed in North Carolina three months earlier.
Hostilities had begun more than a year before delegates from the 13 British colonies on North America’s east coast signed the declaration.
Patriots fired the “shot heard round the world” on April 19, 1775, at the Old North Bridge in Concord, Mass. More than eight years of bloody conflict followed.
We should never forget how brutal the campaign was. It tore apart families and friends who believed deeply that their side was in the right. Property was destroyed from north to south; tens of thousands of people died.
The new nation was forged with determination, sacrifice, loss and blood. Remember that today to honor those who gave their lives for such a worthy cause.
The country they made was not perfect, however. Just 78 years later, the weaker threads in our makeup gave way and an even greater conflict erupted. Four years of bitter warfare killed more than 600,000 combatants and more than 100,000 civilians, including slaves. Many more were maimed. Entire cities, towns, farms and families were devastated or destroyed.
Lincoln and Grant did not have to stop at Appomattox and Bentonville. They had the manpower and might to wipe the South as we know it from the face of the map. They could have completely remade the cloth.
They chose a truce instead, allowing North Carolina and the other southern states to keep a shred of dignity, whether their people realized it or not. The truce left it to all of us to mend the garment of our people. We have been patching it and ripping it and patching it ever since.
Today our divisions seem deeper than ever, maybe deeper than those that divided colonists from Britain or North from South. Red-faced anger spits at us daily.
People on all sides believe they are right. Around kitchen tables across our land some even echo Jefferson’s call that the tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants.
We hope on this Independence Day that cooler heads prevail; that we can throw up a wave of the hand and say Happy Fourth to one and all; that we can recognize our differences, discuss them with civility, agree to disagree if necessary and let the democratic process we started nearly 250 years ago do its work.
It’s better to constantly mend a frayed cloth than to make it so bloody it cannot ever be renewed.
The Daily Reflector