Memories of Dad
Independence Day was one of Dad’s favorite holidays and the source of some of my most cherished childhood memories. My dad loved fireworks, homemade ice cream, and watermelon. I have many wonderful memories of tasting the salt water as it leaked out as Dad cranked to make the ice cream. Like most kids, I would drive Dad crazy asking him over and over if the ice cream was done. There is nothing quite as good as homemade ice cream. Something I miss in today’s modern world.
In stark contrast to most of my memories of Dad, Dad would behave like an irresponsible adolescent when it came to fireworks. One of the funnest things I can remember was Dad and his friends from the CSP using various items to aim bottle rockets as they shot them off at the end of the street. They would even hold onto the bottle rockets and black cats before they threw them in the air just after lighting the fuse. Safety was not their first thought, yet fortunately I do not recall anyone getting hurt. Of course, this is something I would never let my children do today.
As much as I treasure these memories of Dad, I am humbled by the historic significance of Independence Day. Over two hundred years ago fifty-six men of diverse backgrounds worked through their differences to reach an agreement of the highest ideals proclaimed in the “Declaration of Independence”. These men risked everything for the belief that men of all walks of life had been given the right from the creator to govern themselves. After thirteen bloody hard fought years, twenty-three of the thirty-nine men that signed the “United States Constitution” were veterans that had fought and survived the Revolutionary War to guaranteed Americans these historic freedoms we all enjoy today.
I am astounded of the bold impassioned words first drafted by Thomas Jefferson with the aid of both John Adams and Benjamin Franklin. In one sentence, these men were able to captured the core character that would shape democracy of both our country and the world:
“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”
It is impossible to appreciate in today’s world how radical the concept that it was “self-evident, that all men are created equal”. The foresight and determination of these men to see that these words would survive all the debates and remain listed so prominently in this document is astonishing considering the obvious contradictions of the society of that time. Although the atrocious practice of slavery would remain in practice for nearly another century, the genesis of the abolition of slavery would be the belief in these very words written by Thomas Jefferson (himself a slave owner).
This radical concept would guide James Madison as he drafted the beginning of the constitution with the prominent words “We the People”. With these three words, Madison established the basis of democracy. It would be these three words that would inspire Abraham Lincoln to say in his iconic Gettysburg Address, “that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the Earth.” It is this revolutionary idea that guides not only our country, these words are the basis of every democracy in the world today.
“We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.”
Genealogy research disclosed that I am blessed to be the direct descendant of at least nine dads that fought and served as privates in the front lines of the American Revolutionary War. It is due to their scarifies that today I enjoy the freedom of speech and freedom of religion which allows me to type this blog. Because of men like them, and the many patriotic men and women that have followed their example to fight to preserve this radical experiment, democracy lives on “one Nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.”
This day serves as a reminder to all of us that we should never forget the legacy that has been passed on to each and everyone that is blessed to live in this great country. My dad made it a point that I should always strive to do what I knew in my heart was the right thing to do, just as we are taught in the Bible. For if each of us (the people) continues to strive to actively do what is right, setting aside our differences to work together, the freedom of democracy “shall not perish from the Earth.”
God bless America!