I wish schools in the United States hadn’t gotten away from teaching history — especially the history of this magnificent country. They have you know. The study of our nation’s history has been pushed so far to the back burner that it barely makes the stove top anymore, if at all.
If more schools actually taught history — I mean, really taught history — instead of assigning the class as an afterthought to someone because they need another football coach — yes, I said that, and was one for many, many years — then more people would understand the incredible significance of the holiday we will celebrate tomorrow.
It is not just another day in the calendar that falls between the end of school and the beginning of school, you know. It’s not just another excuse for a white sale or a barbecue or a fireworks display. We are celebrating Independence Day. We are celebrating the signing of the Declaration of Independence, in which Thomas Jefferson expounded on Lighthorse Harry Lee’s resolution that “these 13 colonies are, and of right ought to be, free and independent states.”
Declaring them so didn’t make it happen, you know. We were already in the middle of a shooting war when independence was declared. The declaration just upped the ante for those involved in the fight. We are celebrating high treason against the King tomorrow. But treason becomes patriotism if your side wins the fight. We did. Miraculously and inexplicably, we won our fight against the best trained and most organized fighting force the world had known up until that time. It was the first revolution in history fought by people who had a lot to lose, because the signers of the Declaration of Independence were among the most prosperous men in the colonies. The system worked for them.
But the system did not include liberty and justice and freedom, and that’s what our Founding Fathers wanted. That’s what they valued above ease and comfort and financial success. They didn’t want anyone taking care of them or giving them anything or telling them what they had to do. All they wanted was to be free to make their own decisions and live their own lives, beholden to no one. They didn’t want to be dependent on anybody for anything.
So Lexington and Concord and the siege of Boston finally gave way to the fourth day of July in 1776 — or actually the second, but that’s another story for another day. And July 4 gave way to Brandywine and Valley Forge and Saratoga and Cowpens and, finally, to Yorktown and a great victory.
I wish more people knew all about that — and all about what we have done, as a nation, working together, under the red, white and blue flag that represents all the good we’ve done in the world and all the hopes and all the dreams those early patriots fought and bled and lived and died for.
I wish they taught everyone about the expansion of our country and the reasons for the disagreements among those from different sections. I wish they taught about the struggle that tore us asunder and how we were reunited, a more perfect union in the long run, and how we worked together and turned a united front to fascism and Nazism and communism and socialism and stood up for those in the world who could not stand up for themselves.
I wish they still taught about the red, white and blue of that star spangled banner that still proudly waves — how the white was for purity of purpose, how the blue was for loyalty and how the red was for the blood that has been spilled by millions of men, and more lately, women, on everyone’s behalf.
I wish they still taught that the stripes on the flag represented those 13 original colonies and the boldness and courage they displayed. I wish they still taught that the white stars on the blue field represented 50 independent states, functioning as one republic — a new constellation set in the vast sky that is time and space on this earth.
I wish they still taught it, and I wish people still wanted and celebrated independence and liberty and justice and the high ideals that set us apart from every other nation in the long history of mankind.
I wish they did, but they don’t. But I still can, for now, and I still will — as long as I have breath in my body. God bless the United States of America. And may America one day, once again bless God.