As we celebrate Independence Day festivities, fireworks, and back-yard cookouts to acknowledge 241 years since the signing of the Declaration of Independence; take pause to reflect what did it cost, who paid that price, and why must we remain vigilant to protect it.
At whatever gathering you find yourself at enjoying the day off with friends and family, pull those faces out of their mobile devices in that mindless chat or games and ask them to look up the Treaty of Paris. Treaty of Paris signed 1783
Strike up a discussion pointing out the United States of America did not magically become a free nation from a colonial power by a few men signing a parchment on July 4th, 1776. That the first free nation, in a self-ruled government, of, by and for the People exploded in a star burst joining the constellation of nations. That in a world of Kings, Emperors, Potentates, and Caliphs, these revolutionaries were the first to declare themselves each a nation of individual sovereigns unto themselves and rejected the rule of monarchs over them.
July 4th, 1776 was only the slap in the face that challenged a proud King to a duel of honor, to the death, with freedom or servitude at stake. It took five years of bloody battles, throughout the Hudson Valley, Virginia, over farmlands turned battlefields for a rag-tag militia, honed into a fighting Army to defeat the strongest, disciplined infantry and naval power on Earth at the time. Blood on the streets, blood on the corn, blood on the bayonets. Tree limbs were the gallows for spies, traitors and deserters. Then it took another nearly two years of diplomatic wrangling to sign and ratify the treaty in 1784.
In Rockland County, on Old Brick Church Road, is a small cemetery with a painted sign marking the burial place of Revolutionary War veterans. Every Memorial Day weekend, American Legion Post 199, Spring Valley, organize flag planting on the headstones. We render a hand salute to the last earthly remains of the soldiers who witnessed those turbulent times and secured for us in our time the liberty denied them but that we now take for granted. So let us be reminded of their sacrifice to a generation unknown to them but with the knowledge they fought and died for a future nation of free people.
Here is a link to burial places of Revolutionary Veterans: Revolutionary War veterans find a grave
Ask yourself the question they would ask if they could but speak to us today; “Have you earned it?” Sometime pass by the Revolutionary War Veterans cemetery, bring flowers, bring a flag, or just stop and offer a thankful prayer and give them a snappy military hand salute because they earned our respect and gratitude. Think about making this a teaching moment as you enjoy this glorious weekend.