Take time to honor our history

It’s safe to say that America’s adults have forgotten many of the details of this country’s founding that they learned while in school. To many, history is “old stuff,” relegated to some distant corner of their memory.

But that “old stuff” is why we live in a free country.

Today’s observance of Independence Day provides an excellent opportunity not only to think about picnics, fireworks and other fun activities, but also to reflect on the people who led the way – and endured the perils and perhaps gave their lives – during America’s struggle for independence.

It’s also appropriate to reflect on those who have died in conflicts since the War for Independence, and those who today are serving this nation in one of its military services, either here, on foreign soil or in some distant sea.

America’s Founding Fathers are regarded as patriots, but those who have volunteered their lives to help protect their free land in the dangerous world of today merit that designation also.

This is a cynical era, and no doubt there were cynics during the time of George Washington, Thomas Jefferson and the others who helped forge this nation. But the Founders prevailed over that cynicism, and 238 years later their influence and foresight continue to guide what is now the United States of America.

Without the benefit of mass communications, people who lived in the time of Washington, Benjamin Franklin, John Adams and the others lacked the means for conveying their opinions about independence from Britain on a large scale. There were people who opposed independence, much of that based on fears of what might lie ahead if the effort on behalf of independence failed.

But those opposing opinions were allowed to exist then, and that early tolerance of opposing views has remained a big part of America’s cornerstone for the more than two centuries since the writing of the Declaration of Independence.

Regarding the Declaration, people are inclined to think about John Hancock (who was president of the Continental Congress), Jefferson, Adams and Franklin. They’re less likely to know that Pennsylvania had the Declaration’s biggest delegation of signers – nine.

Those who might think Washington was a signer are wrong.

Washington’s leadership of the Revolutionary War effort makes his name most recognizable, but those who think back to their school history books might recall less-well-known names.

Two of them are Lt. Nathan Hale, executed Sept. 22, 1776, by the British after telling his captors “I only regret that I have but one life to lose for my country,” and Gen. Francis Marion, who lived up to his nickname “Swamp Fox” by way of his elusiveness, craftiness and ability to surprise and outwit British troops.

Many in today’s military exude such love of country, bravery and skills.

If you have an American flag, display it proudly. Beyond that, do something else today that shows pride in America.

Regardless of your feelings about politics or today’s political climate, understand that the Declaration of Independence remains as important today as it was 238 years ago.

History is “old stuff,” but it’s the reason we’re able to celebrate living in this great country.