Monday, July 4, 2011

Inspired Independence

I've been thinking about Independence Day for a couple weeks now. It's my very favorite holiday. Very. Favorite. Christmas is great and all, but I guess I get too caught up in the commercialism of it because it's a really stressful time of year for me. Independence Day is low stress and, though it might seem odd, filled with the Spirit of God. As I'm writing this it's not even noon here and I can't tell you how many times I've already cried or come close to crying: in the car as I thought about the soldiers who died defending our liberties, as I said the pledge of allegiance at the flag raising ceremony this morning at the church potluck breakfast, as I shared with Nathan my feelings about how inspired our forefathers were, as I talked to the kids about what the Fourth of July really means. . . .  Like I said, it's been awesome!
Waiting for the bike parade to start

I pushed Emma and Lincoln in the parade

I wanted to share some thoughts here, not just for those of you who still stop by here, but for myself and my kids.

I can't seem to separate freedom, liberty, obedience to God's commandments, and joy. Every time I start thinking it over I go back to the scriptures. In 2 Nephi 2:25 and 27 it talks about how Adam fell that men might be and men are that they might have joy. It says we are free to choose liberty and eternal life, or choose captivity and death. Later in Alma 46:13 and 20 Moroni fastens on his breastplate the Title of Liberty. He bows to the ground and prays mightily unto his God for the blessings of liberty to rest upon his brethren and says that if they enter into a covenant with God that they will maintain their rights and their religion and that then the Lord will bless them.

I made Megan's skirt, of course.

I find it interesting that Moroni said they had to enter into a covenant to maintain their rights and their religion. They had to be obedient to God's commandments to retain those rights, to possess that liberty which was and is so necessary to us all. And in so doing, joy and blessings are received from God.

The liberty which Moroni spoke of isn't that different from the liberty we talk about today. The liberty to worship in peace and safety. The liberty to be in our families, free from persecution and fear. Liberty to work and live as we please as far as we obey God's command.

The Founding Fathers wanted these same things for their families and for the nation. Here's a little quick historical timeline for you. Being a history major and this being my favorite day, I couldn't resist!

In March 1775 in Richmond, Virginia Patrick Henry stood in a church aisle and with his wrists crossed in front of him as if they were chained, he cried out with a voice that seemed to get louder and louder, "Is life so dear, or peace so sweet, as to be purchased at the price of chains and slavery? Forbid it, Almighty God! I know not what course others may take, but as for me, give me liberty, or give me death!" With those words Henry flung open his arms as if casting off his chains. Then he slammed his fist against his chest as if driving a dagger to his heart.

That summer an official army was established, but a commanding general was still needed. John Adams nominated George Washington, a hero of the French and Indian War. Washington wrote about his concerns saying he didn't feel equal to the command and that the Americans were "not then organized as a nation, or known as a people upon the earth. We had no preparation. Money, the nerve of war, was wanting." Washington led what we would consider a ragtag volunteer army that had little training and barely enough gunpowder to keep their own weapons firing. Washington worked hard to hide the condition of his army, even from his officers. Not only were soldiers and gunpowder scarce, but clothing was, too. Most cloth had come from Britain. However, because King George III insisted on closing Boston Harbor until the colonists pay England for all the ruined tea from the Boston Tea Party, the colonists boycotted everything they could from Britain. When General Washington realized that the war would last into winter, he sent out an appeal for 13,000 coats for the soldiers. Patriot women in every colony heard of the need and worked making handspun coats for the army. The great need kept them spinning for so much a part of the day, that if they went to visit their friends, they took their spinning wheels with them so they could talk and spin and sew at the same time. Inside each coat the maker sewed her name and the name of her town.
Our friend Maggie

The following winter, Thomas Paine's pamphlet, Common Sense, was published in January 1776. It worked a great change in the minds of the people, leading many to agree that a complete break from England was needed. Paine declared that America had a mission in the world as the champion of liberty. America was a place where universal freedom could take root and flourish.

By Spring, May 1776 Congress was referring to the colonies as "states" and encouraging each of them to form their own separate governments. In June it was proposed that the colonies be "free and independent States," and that they be "absolved from all allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political connection between them and that State of Great Britain" be "totally dissolved."

water fight with Ben :)

Weeks later, Thomas Jefferson began writing The Declaration of Independence. For two weeks he wrote, rewrote, scratched out, and ripped up. On July 2, 1776 until July 4th Congress went through the Declaration word by word, changing what they thought should be changed and adding what they thought needed adding. The final version was voted on and approved unanimously. Each man that signed it knew that by declaring freedom from Great Britain, they could be hanged for treason. One of the most famous lines from the Declaration goes, "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."

The scriptures that teach of liberty and joy help us understand a little bit of how the Spirit was working with these men as Jefferson and those from the Congress prepared The Declaration of Independence. God truly had a hand in preserving this nation for a sacred cause. It is He who has granted us with our life, liberty and happiness and I am grateful for those who came before me. I am grateful for those who fought because they saw a corrupt government trying to control them and their families. I'm grateful for those who continue to fight to help us retain our freedom, liberty and those great blessings bestowed upon us by God.

Have a fabulous Independence Day!


The Holdaway's said...

Great post! I love your thoughts and am glad I wasn't the only tearing up while saying the Pledge of Allegiance at the breakfast...

Wade, Jenny, and Girls said...

Loved your post! Thanks for the history lesson! :)

Cathy Witbeck said...

After being a den leader for 5 years and learning the pledge of allegiance, I found myself very teary eyed standing in court being sworn in as a citizen and saying it as one for the 1st time. It took us 8 years to get our citizenship and it means a lot to us.
Now I have to tell you something funny. The pianist started to play a congragational hymn on sunday and I did a double take. "Why is she playing 'God Save The Queen' I thought. It turns out My Country Tis of The and God Save the Queen are exactly the same tune. Different lyrics. Freaked me out. I sang 'God Save the Queen" every day for six years in elementary school.