When I think about The Independence of the United States of America, images that come to mind are fireworks, barbeques, family, and rebellion. However, the foundation of this great nation is more than just a celebration of gunpowder and ribs. The United States is a nation of rebels, fighters, and immigrants.
Certain moments in the history and settlement of the United States of America are debatable. For instance, the discovery of the land itself is scattered with different names and groups of settlers like the Chinese, the Vikings, Christopher Columbus, and Amerigo Vespucci to name a few. Who got here first? When I ask this question, I get a myriad of answers through text, friends and family. The point is that this nation, this land of plenty, was worth staying and fighting.
One of the reasons the colonial settlers of the 1600s came to the colonies was to escape religious persecution. Some of those colonies failed with grisly ends. As time went on, European settlers continued to proliferate the land. This was a tremendous wave of European immigration for a budding nation.
The British colonies were flourishing and it did not go without notice. About a decade before the formal Declaration of Independence, tensions began to mount because of unfair taxation without representation. There was a growing distaste for the management skills of King George III. The Stamp Act of 1765, the Townshend Tariffs of 1767, the Tea Act of 1773 were enough to inflame patriotic colonists into action. This was truly revolutionary in thought to disobey the British crown. Before the Second Continental Congress drafted the Declaration of Independence, the First Continental Congress met in 1774 to denounce taxation without representation and full control of the British army in the colonies without British consent. On April 19th, the first shots of the Revolutionary war had been fired.
With the Revolutionary War in full swing in June of 1776, the Second Continental Congress converged and drafted the Declaration of Independence by July of 1776. An interesting point to note is that Congress adopted the Declaration of Independence on July 4, 1776, but it was not signed until nearly a month later.
The Revolutionary War concluded with a formal victory for the colonists in 1781, but skirmishes continued through 1783. The United States had allies for their independence from the French, bravery from the nation’s original militiamen (mostly farmers and commoners), sacrifice from generals on holy holidays like Christmas to ensure true independence from British rule.
The total of US Military service men and women from 1775-1991 (the GWOT conflict is still active so numbers are not final) is approximately 41.8 million (source: US Department of Veteran Affairs). That is 41.8 million reasons to be proud of this rugged, rebellious nation of immigrants. Without a service member’s sacrifice and protection, regardless of era or conflict, this great nation would not continue to exist.
Today, I encourage all of you, not to put aside your differences, rather celebrate them. The foundation of this country was forged in fire. The brave men and women that decided this nation was worth dying for would agree. Our founding forefathers fought heartily to stamp out the best course of action to provide a fruitful future for us all would agree.
Today, you are not your lineage. Today and every day you are an American. You have the right to pray, protest, shoot your weapons, vote, and most importantly you have the right to pursue happiness as a legal citizen of the United States of America!
The Lord God our Father in Heaven has blessed the land, and I encourage you to take a look around at the bounty that is the United States with gratitude. Work to understand your neighbor. Chances are they are descendants of immigrants that believed in this nation and its freedoms as heartily as your own relatives have believed.
Today, I leave you with this benediction:
He makes nations great, and he destroys them; he enlarges nations, and leads them away. –Job 12:23