Friday, July 3, 2015
This battery is set on a ridge facing across a broad open field at Gettysburg, Pennsylvania. When you stand there and look across, you cannot believe men would march across that field in the face of these cannons and thousands of soldiers with their guns pointed at you. But they did. In fact, 152 years ago today, that very thing happened, here at Gettysburg.
The 4th of July is mostly thought of in terms of the Revolutionary War. Dates vary from July 2 to July 4th, but somewhere in that window our Declaration of Independence was finalized and announced. I would say it took time and lives to make that document meaningful, but that is probably wrong. In reality I should be talking in the present text: It IS taking time and lives to make that document meaningful.
July 4th is for the politicians. They were the ones that wrote and debated the Declaration of Independence, lofty words with a grand meaning. It was the common people that backed it up.
July 3rd is for the common people doing what we do to give meaning and purpose to the actions of those politicians.
For a long time now, I have not thought about Washington, Jefferson, Franklin, et. al. on the 4th. My thoughts have centered more around names like Armistead, Longstreet, Reynolds, Chamberlain, Pickett and the thousands of the nameless that died 152 years ago today in support of that document signed in Philadelphia years before.
Without us the politicians are nothing. Without us, the Declaration of Independence is just a bunch of words and run-on sentences.
July 3rd is our day.