It was 239 years ago, with the signing of the Declaration of Independence, that our country declared independence from our previous ruler, Great Britain. This weekend, most of the 320,000,000 in the United States – and countless tens of millions around the world – will recognize and celebrate the July 4th holiday, commemorating the most consequential and significant event in the history of this country.
It is at this time that I often find myself entertaining thoughts revolving around the fortunate timing of my existence. Like most of you, I have been born in a very peaceful time, not just in relation to the history of this country, but in the much greater context of the history of the world. When I think of the collective human population for millennia before the present generations, my thoughts blur together into a sea of gratitude because I recognize how few in history were favored to enjoy the level of freedom I experience.
When it comes to history, I readily admit to being a neophyte, an amateur, a mostly uninformed dabbler in the chronicles of the recent and long bygone eras of humankind. Regardless, however, I do have at least some sense of my fortuity. I wasn’t born in any one of the thousands of civilizations that have endured the terror of conquest, barbaric or otherwise. I wasn’t born in a time or place in which my life was pitifully inconsequential. I was born in a very enlightened, prosperous, flourishing country at a golden time in the history of the world. No matter the level of my understanding of history, nor the scope of measurement, I would be ignorant to not consider myself very blessed. Celebrate independence? Yes, and so much more.
It’s with that thought, and a few of the dozens of movie quotes I could present on these thoughts, I wish you a safe and enjoyable 4th of July holiday.
“Liberty is too precious to be buried in books. Men should hold it up in front of them every single day of their lives and say, ‘I’m free.’” – Jimmy Stewart in Mr. Smith Goes to Washington
“History is but a chronicle of war.” – Rade Serbedzija in The Legend of Hercules
“Sweet Jesus, war does terrible things to people.” – Jim Broadbent in Gangs of New York
“There’s more to fighting than rest, sir. There’s character. There’s strength of heart. You should have seen us in action two days ago. We were a sight to see!” – Matthew Broderick in Glory
“Very well, gentlemen. We are about to brave the storm in a skiff made of paper.” – David Ford (playing John Hancock) in 1776