Sunday, July 4, 2010

Happy 4th of July

The Star Spangled Banner

Oh, say, can you see, by the dawn's early light,
What so proudly we hail'd at the twilight's last gleaming?
Whose broad stripes and bright stars, thro' the perilous fight,
O'er the ramparts we watch'd, were so gallantly streaming?
And the rockets' red glare, the bombs bursting in air,
Gave proof thro' the night that our flag was still there.
O say, does that star-spangled banner yet wave
O'er the land of the free and the home of the brave?

On the shore dimly seen thro' the mists of the deep,
Where the foe's haughty host in dread silence reposes,
What is that which the breeze, o'er the towering steep,
As it fitfully blows, half conceals, half discloses?
Now it catches the gleam of the morning's first beam,
In full glory reflected, now shines on the stream:
'Tis the star-spangled banner: O, long may it wave
O'er the land of the free and the home of the brave!

And where is that band who so vauntingly swore
That the havoc of war and the battle's confusion
A home and a country should leave us no more?
Their blood has wash'd out their foul footsteps' pollution.
No refuge could save the hireling and slave
From the terror of flight or the gloom of the grave:
And the star-spangled banner in triumph doth wave
O'er the land of the free and the home of the brave.

O, thus be it ever when freemen shall stand,
Between their lov'd homes and the war's desolation;
Blest with vict'ry and peace, may the heav'n-rescued land
Praise the Pow'r that hath made and preserv'd us as a nation!
Then conquer we must, when our cause is just,
And this be our motto: "In God is our trust"
And the star-spangled banner in triumph shall wave
O'er the land of the free and the home of the brave!

Francis Scott Key, 1814

The Men Who Signed the Declaration of Independence.

Have you ever wondered what happened to the fifty-six men who signed the Declaration of Independence? 
Five signers were captured by the British as traitors, and tortured before they died. 
Twelve had their homes ransacked and burned. 
Two lost their sons serving in the Revolutionary Army, another had two sons captured. 
Nine of the fifty-six fought and died from wounds or hardships of the Revolutionary War. 
They signed, and they pledged their lives, their fortunes, and their sacred honor. What sort of men were they? 
Twenty-four were lawyers and jurists. Eleven were merchants, nine were farmers and large plantation owners; men of means, well educated. But they signed the Declaration of Independence full knowing that the penalty would be death were they captured. 
Carter Braxton of Virginia, a wealthy planter and trader, saw his ships swept from the seas by the British Navy. He sold his home and properties to pay his debts, and died in rags. 
Thomas McKeam was so hounded by the British that he was forced to move his family almost constantly. He served in the Congress without pay, and his family was kept in hiding. His possessions were taken from him, and poverty was his reward. 
Vandals or soldiers looted the properties of Dillery, Hall, Clymer, Walton, Gwinnett, Heyward, Ruttledge, and Middleton. 
At the battle of Yorktown, Thomas Nelson, Jr., noted that the British General Cornwallis had taken over the Nelson home for his headquarters. He quietly urged General George Washington to open fire. The home was destroyed, and Nelson died bankrupt. 
Francis Lewis had his home and properties destroyed. The enemy jailed his wife, and she died within a few months. 
John Hart was driven from his wife's bedside as she was dying. Their thirteen children fled for their lives. His fields and his gristmill were laid to waste. For more than a year he lived in forests and caves, returning home to find his wife dead and his children vanished. A few weeks later he died from exhaustion and a broken heart. Norris and Livingston suffered similar fates.

These are the stories and sacrifices of the American Revolution. These were not wild eyed, rabble-rousing ruffians. They were soft-spoken men: men of means and education. 

They had security, yet they valued liberty more. Unwavering, they pledged: "For the support of this declaration, with firm reliance on the protection of the divine providence, we mutually pledge to each other, our lives, our fortunes, and our sacred honor." 
They gave us, you and me, a free and independent America. History books never told us much of what took place in the Revolutionary War. 

We didn't just fight the British. We were British subjects at that time, and we fought our own government. Many of us often take these liberties for granted. Should we? 
While enjoying our 4th of July holiday, pause and silently thank these patriots.
It isn't that much to ask for the price they paid. 

Liberty Bell
Bessie Price Owen

The East where liberty was born,
Where soldiers fought and fell,
In seventeen seventy-six
Rang the Liberty Bell.
The East that gave to us the creed
To honor God and the right
To love the flag that o'er us waves,
To keep it pure and white.

The West where deserts hot with sand
Raise gardens, new and fair,
Where mountain peaks reach to teh sky,
And God is everywhere.
The East that gave to us new light
So man could catch the ray
And make of it a paradise
Where travelers rest and stay.

The North where winds so cold and strong
Sweep through the plains and fields,
And men that toil with steel and soil
A might power wield.
The North that gave to us new strength,
The Union, liberty . . .
And Lincoln's heritage of truth
For all posterity.

The South where balmy breezes blow,
Where sparkling brooks flow by, 
Where life is simple and sincere,
Where faith can never die.
The South that gave to us ideals
That throb along the way . . . 
General Robert E Lee's surrender
On a history-making day. 

The East and West, the North and South,
A blend of love and pride,
A heritage so precious
That always will abide.
Our glorious America
Sprang from the simple sod
Whree man dreamed, toiled and conquered . . .
"One nation under God."

Edgar Daniel Kramer

Ring out more acrss the world
Of harsh and futile strife;
Ring out and fill our hearts with dreams
That are the breath of life.
Ring out and make us seee again
The brightly gleaming star
That we have lost amid the gloom,
As we have wandered far
From ways wherein our fathers fared
To find their shining goals,
For we are groping through the dark
With anxiety in our souls.

Ring out across the hills and plains,
Ring out across the seas,
Ring out and make us know again
The old simplicities
That gave our sturdy fathers strength
to make their dreams come true,
As they shaped in the wilderness
A nation nobly new.
Ring out and lead our stubmling fee
From ways where gray ghosts nod
To paths our fathers humbly walked
With faith in man and God. 

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