Friday, July 2, 2010

Happy Birthday America!

The Fourth is more than baseball and watermelon

Sunday is the Fourth of July, the 234th anniversary of a hot day in Philadelphia when a group of men took a leap of faith that created America. It’s way too easy to forget their courage when they risked their lives and livelihoods to sign that document. We owe them a huge debt of gratitude. The least we can do is to pay homage to the day that changed the world.

Start the weekend with a visit to the Goochland Famers Market on the grounds of historic Grace Episcopal Church on River Road West in the heart of Goochland’s Courthouse Village. At 10 a.m., Richard LeBlanc will read the Declaration of Independence from the steps of the church. This is probably how many people in rural areas learned about the developments in Philadelphia that would rock their world to its foundations. Try to imagine how a Goochland farmer felt all those years ago knowing that war would soon be in his backyard.

Although the flag as we know it wasn’t around in 1776, it is the symbol of America. We pledge allegiance by rote and probably give little thought to the words. This transplanted Yankee finds the emphasis that Goochlanders put on the word “indivisible” confirmation that, no matter how different we may be on the outside, we are one united people in our hearts.

The late Red Skelton, a comic who could tickle funny bones without four letter words, offers one of the best insights into the Pledge. Read or watch at

The Fourth is a great day to fly your flag. To ensure that you’re doing it correctly, visit

Make sure your kids and grandkids help. Do they know how to fold and respect the flag, if not this is a great way to teach them. These are important lessons that should be taught at home by family members.

The Fourth is a good time to reflect on the freedoms that we take for granted, including and especially, the right to free speech. Without the First Amendment, this blog would not be possible. As a nation, we bicker, a lot, but resolve our differences at the ballot box not local battlefields.

Fireworks, the reenacting of ‘the rockets’ red glare” of the Star Spangled Banner, are another Fourth of July tradition. These will be held in Goochland on Sunday night about 9 p.m. Visit the county website for details.

America is very much a work in progress. We must all honor those who sacrificed for our freedoms, especially the men and women of our military who go in harm’s way so we can enjoy a safe and peaceful Fourth. We must also be ever vigilant that our way of life does not disappear into history.
We all have the responsibility to be informed citizens and remind our elected officials that their power is derived from those who are governed. We must pay attention, ask difficult questions and demand accountability from our leaders.

Ponder these ideas as you celebrate the Fourth. We must work together to ensure that there will be many more birthdays for America.

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