Friday, July 4, 2008

Independence Day

Today we celebrate our independence. I'm not sure that anyone has any idea what that means anymore. A while back, the men in this little backward collection of villages and towns decided that they weren't going to take it anymore. They weren't going to pay arbitrary taxes and follow arbitrary rules.

And they were willing to fight if that was what it came down to. It was a rag-tag army. We weren't a country back then. There was no budget. The fighting men lived in tents in the deep cold of winter. I used to live about five miles from the site of the last encampment of the continental army. Winter there is bitter. The officers commandeered private homes. Some of them are still around and open for tours. I've walked around inside them. Small two or three room houses. One of them overlooks the Hudson River.

One of my husband's ancestors was guarding that crossing of the Hudson River according to his pension record. If I had not lived nearby, I would never have known about the steep terrain and the rocky trails. His troop walked there from Massachusetts. When I drove to his home town it took us four hours. How long to walk it in winter, I wonder?

Another of my ancestors held off British soldiers at his farm in South Carolina. He was sixteen. According to his pension papers, he saved the supplies for the local freedom fighters by shooting the neighbor, a Tory sympathizer. Later some British soldiers captured him and sentenced him to hanging. An older brother rescued him and the two of them rode a long way to join other fighters.

I believe that we don't remember or maybe aren't even aware of the tremendous sacrifices of those early fighters. There was no flag to rally around. No constitution. No Star Spangled Banner to sing. They were small groups of men, pitifully under-manned and under-armed who just kept on fighting. This is their remembrance. May we honor them well.



  1. Happy 4th of July. May we always remember those who fought and still fight for freedom

  2. Several greats back my grandfather is General William Irvine. Perhaps our ancestors fought together.

    I wish I had the patience for geneology. I'm proud of my heritage even though I don't know very much about it.

  3. excelelnt reminders, Oh Zen Queen. Between the barbecues and picnics and fireworks it's so easy to forget what it's all about.

  4. History lesson ala carte. Excellent. Thanks Anny and happy 4th.

  5. Love the tale of your 16 yr old ancestor and his bravery. Sounds like the makings of a great story to me. This afternoon I've been watching John Adams. So VERY interesting. Imagine those men shut up in a sweltering room planning things out, yanking off those sweaty wigs and mopping their brows. They were risking their lives, all of them, to go against the mighty British empire.

    I wonder if it were up to us, would we take such a chance? I'd like to think we would.