Our thanks goes out to those men and women who made it possible to have liberty and freedom today that came forth from the Founding Fathers. They produced the Declaration of Independence and the U.S. Constitution including The Bill of Rights. They pledged their lives, fortunes and sacred honor and sacrificed much so that we can enjoy liberty and freedom today.
This is a unique country where we are free to dream, free to act and free to mold our own destiny. My mother’s family came to America in 1636 to the Boston area to have religious freedom away from the Anglican Church of England. My grandfather immigrated to America in 1903 from Germany when the Fabian Socialists had destroyed the European economy. He came through Ellis Island and had to have good health and a US sponsor. He was sponsored by a family in Iowa where I was born.
I have an uncle who was a Marine in the Korean Conflict (War). He was 93 when he died June 1, 2022. My father-in-law was a Marine in WWII in the South Pacific where casualties were very high due to Japanese bullets and malaria. He suffered malaria attacks for many years.
We did not truly have religious freedom until after the War of 1812. What sacrifices brought about religious freedom? Christopher Columbus brought Christianity to the Caribbean in 1492. There was Jamestown in 1605 and the Pilgrims arrived at Plymouth Rock in 1620. Some background is needed to appreciate additional events leading up to religious freedom in America. The French and Indians were in a war with England. George Washington was a 23-year-old Colonel in the British Army. The French and Indians ambushed the British army. All officers except Washington were killed or wounded. Washington had two horses shot he was riding. After the battle, Washington had four holes in his coat, but not a scratch on him. He knew he had been protected by Providence (God) beyond all probability. Years later an Indian said he had shot at Washington 17 times. Washington was call the “bullet-proof” patriot.
The Declaration of Independence was signed July 4, 1776. The 56 signers pledged their lives, fortunes and sacred honor. The sacrificed tremendously by signing. By signing they all became traitors to King George. Nine signers died, 17 lost their fortunes, 12 lost their home, 5 became prisoners of war and many lost their families. Independence Day was celebrated as a religious holiday as Jesus Christ is the author of liberty. John Adams, 2nd US President, said upon signing it was “a day of deliverance and devotion to God.”
The War for Independence lasted eight years with 6,824 killed and 8,445 wounded. We remember Paul Revere’s ride on April 19, 1775, and the Minutemen at Lexington and Concord where the “Shot that was heard around the world.” Washington’s “Ragamuffin Army” was to battle the greatest military power in the world.
Time after time the Patriot Army escaped defeat and destruction by the British Army that had far more manpower and war materials. Washington said that Providence (meaning God) had intervened 67 times to prevent being defeated. The Kentucky long rifles made in Pennsylvania by German craftsmen were far more accurate at long distances in open field battles. This allowed the Patriots to get off a shot before the British soldiers were in range to fire at the Continental Army.
Valley Forge was winter camp for the Patriot Army. Of the 11,000 troops, 2,500 died from cold, starvation and disease. Many had frozen limbs amputated. General Washington was seen often praying. It is said that the “Spirit of Liberty” sustained the troops during the winter and throughout the war.
The final victory came at Yorktown, Virginia where General Cornwallis surrendered 7,000 soldiers to Washington. Cornwallis was trapped against the sea as the French War ships defeated the British ships to prevent the troops from escaping. Something that has never happened before was that Washington resigned his commission as General to Congress to become citizen George Washington. Note: The Washington Monument is 555 feet high with the interpreted Latin words saying, “Praise Be To God” on the cap stone.
James Madison, Father of the Constitution, indicated that the Articles of Confederation needed revised. He invited delegates from all 13 colonies to the Philadelphia Convention. It was held behind closed doors and rather than modify the Articles, they drafted a completely new Constitution complete with a Bill of Rights for individual rights. These wise Founding Fathers gave us a Constitutional Republic where the Federal government is limited, and the power resides with the States and the People. Ezra Taft Benson, former Secretary of Agriculture in the Eisenhower administration, called the Constitution “A Heavenly Banner.” The Founders called the new US Constitution a “Manifest Destiny” to take the principles of liberty in the Constitution to the peoples of the world.
The War of 1812 started June 18, 1812, and lasted two years. The decisive Patriot victory was at Fort McHenry, Baltimore, Maryland. The British war ships bombarded the fort for 24 hours. Francis Scott Key, a lawyer, witnessed the assault from a British sloop. Key was there to negotiate for the release of an American doctor who was held captive. All the British guns were aimed at the large 30 foot by 42-foot flag. It they were successful in bringing down the flag, it would have been a British victory. It rained so the large flag was substituted by a 17 X 25-foot flag. However, with dawns early light the large flag once again was hoisted over the fort. It was a costly victory as many American patriot soldiers were killed putting the flag up time after time. Francis Scott Key penned what would become our National Anthem, “The Stars Spangled Banner.” The flag should be respected at all times. The Anthem had four verses, but we sing only three with the fourth verse being the third verse being sung today.
A very rare tornado ripped through the British troops as they were assembling to burn Washington, D.C. Many soldiers were killed and wounded and cannons were tossed into the air.
Previously, Dolley Madison, the President’s wife removed precious paintings, etc. from the White House before the British had burned it. At the end of the War in 1814, President Madison declared a National Day of Thanksgiving.
The Civil War started April 12th, 1861, and ended with General Lee surrendering to General Grant on April 9th ,1865. The total dead were 618,226 and 281,881 Union soldiers wounded. Lincoln’s memorable Gettysburg Address and his signing The Emancipation Proclamation were highlights of the war. The song, “The Battle Hymn of the Republic was penned February 1, 1862, and became the Union’s theme song. Note: The Mormon Tabernacle Choir’s singing of it became a pop hit of national music in 1958. In 1864 Henry Wadsworth Longfellow’s song, “I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day” was sung. In 1867, the song, “The Little Town of Bethlehem” was introduced. The original Memorial Day began May 30, 1868, but it was changed in 1968 to the last Monday in May each year.
World War I was called “The War to End All Wars.” America had 116, 516 killed and another 204,002 wounded. The major casualties of the war were the Armenian Christians. Over one million men, women and children were brutally killed by Turkish Muslims. Armistice Day was November 11th, 1918, but later it was changed to Veteran’s Day in 1954. In 1921, The Tomb of the Unknown Soldier was dedicated at Arlington National Cemetery. On the tomb is the inscription, “In Honored Glory, an American Soldier Know but to God.” The changing of the guard takes place every 30 minutes, 24 hours a day. President Calvin Coolidge said, “Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.” He also said, “Peace comes through sacrifice.” Watching the changing of the guard is a memorable, inspirational experience to reflect on the sacrifices of patriot soldiers.
WW II lasted five and one-half years. The American involvement in the war started with the Japanese bombing of Pearl Harbor. We had 405,399 killed and 670,846 wounded. Millions of people died in Europe, Japan, Philippines and the South Sea Islands. The dropping of two atomic bombs on Japan ended the war in August of 1945.
The Korean War (considered a police action) was under United Nation authority and was not declared a war by the US Congress. 36,574 soldiers were killed and 103,284 were wounded in the first war where we did not win. Our soldiers suffered many hardships including brutally cold temperature and air support was very limited. They were fighting over one million North Korean and Chinese Communists. General Douglas McArthur was not allowed to win and was fired by President Harry Truman. McArthur said, “Moral decay leads to political and economic decline.” On the Korean War Monument at Washington, D.C. It says, “Freedom is Not Free.”
The Vietnam War was also called a “Police Action” and once again it was fought under United Nations authority and not a declaration of war by Congress. We had 58,220 killed and 153,303 wounded soldiers. It was a difficult war to fight as it was hard to determine who was the enemy until they attacked our troops. There were sanctuary areas where we were not allowed to bomb the enemy. The Vietnam Memorial in Washington, D. C. was dedicated November 13th , 1982 with the names of all soldiers who died inscribed on the monument.
The Iraq Gulf War saw 4,800 soldiers killed with an unknown amount of wounded.
The Founding Fathers knew they were part of something special. Thomas Jefferson died on July 4th, 1826 along with John Adams on the 50th anniversary of the signing of The Declaration of Independence. At one time they were rivals, but became lifelong patriot friends.
Presently, religious freedom is under attack in America and around the world. It is our solemn responsibility to uphold our God-given Constitution including the Bill of Rights which delineates our rights. There is a concerted ongoing effort to hold another Constitutional Convention. James Madison and others have warned us not to allow our Constitution to be destroyed by holding another convention. We must elect officials who will keep their oaths of office to uphold our Constitution against enemies foreign and domestic.
We must pay tribute to the sacrifices of all veterans who fought and died to ensure that we can enjoy the blessings of liberty and freedom contained in the US Constitution We should continue to give thanks to all those who continue to sacrifice now to retain our religious liberty, individual liberty and national independence. We must reverence our United States flag for the liberty and freedom it represents. We must never forget the sacrifices of all those soldiers and patriots who were killed or wounded defending our great United States of America.
God bless America, the land of the free and home of the brave. Freedom is not free! It must be won in each generation. Elected officials must keep their oath of office to uphold and defend the US Constitution including protecting our individual liberties in The Bill of Rights!
Note: Information and stats obtained from the Congressional Research Service.