What does Independence Day really mean?

Posted July 3, 2013 at 12:00 pm

A year or so ago, my grandson (then eight) asked for information about any family members who had been in the service…it’s been an ongoing 4-H project, and he’s just finishing it up.

I supplied what I could, way back to the Revolutionary War, then onward. I realize now I left some people out, but I did my best.


Ruth A. Moller

As the Fourth of July approaches, I find myself asking…What If?

What if…the Revolutionary War had been lost? It wasn’t a done deal. In fact, many of my ex-husband’s family were Tories, and were granted land by the King. Many of those family members still live in Canada.

Had the Revolution been lost, would we have the same type of governance as Canada, or would we have tried again?

Had the South won the Civil War, would we still have made progress as far as race relations? Would it have been better, or worse?

Should World War I, or II, have been won by Germany, where would we be? Who would hold the reins? What if Japan had triumphed in World War II? What form of government would we have?

Of course there have been many other wars—Korea, Vietnam, Iraq, Afghanistan. They all took bitter tolls, but our “Country on the Line” harks back to World War II and before.

Depending on a different outcome, when the flag rolls by on a float, which flag would we be saluting?

This is not meant to be a “downer” column. It’s meant to ponder the “what if.” None of those scenarios came to pass, but they definitely could have. Just as we can’t predict the outcome of a football game, neither could any of those wars have been considered a sure win.

Thankfully, we can celebrate the Fourth…Independence Day. We can hold parades and light fireworks, and for a short time, everyone feels united. This Land Was Made For You And Me.

It’s easy to take it all for granted today, isn’t it? We may get a lump in our throat when the flag goes by, and sing “God Bless America” with gusto. But we weren’t on the scene, so to speak, when those historic events happened.

My grandson has researched a great deal about wars and veterans. He walks up to veterans, thanks them, and hands them a bookmark he’s made. He’s been especially captivated by my great-niece’s husband, who was blinded in Afghanistan, and has several other war-related issues. Perhaps it is because Sean’s a little closer to the era he’s familiar with. I sent him several photos of Sean, with white cane and eye-dog, placing a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknowns two years ago. He was impressed. Sean will also receive a bookmark.

What impresses me is, it takes a (just turned) 10-year-old to condense things down…these people fought for us; we need to show our appreciation.

How many people know about war rationing during World War II? Or growing Victory Gardens? How many people really think about or understand what war does to families, especially wars that involve fighting for our very survival as a nation?

A few of my ancestors fought in the Revolutionary War. All I have are names…no diaries or letters are left behind. But those people were actually there, when a bunch of upstarts had the audacity to ask for freedom to build their own country, apart from Britain. A great deal of blood was shed, many tears also. But that first flag of the Colonies still waved!

So as we watch the fireworks and floats, enjoy the picnics and activities, let’s reserve a moment or two of reverence for the many who have gone to the frontlines, and risked everything, so we can–truly—live in a land of the free.