Early Settlers of Union
Descendants...Their Stories...Their Achievements
Mists of History on Their Way of Life
By: Ethelene Dyer Jones
Our Level of
Webster's dictionary defines
"love for or devotion to one's country." Consider the phrase,
"love for." What one loves, one respects. Have we today departed from
President John F. Kennedy's plea? "Think not what your country can do
you, but what you can do for your country."
What is our level of patriotism?
do we love America?
Are we, its citizens, among those who are most critical of its present
policies? Are we looking for what our country can do for us?
The Fourth of July is a good
time to renew
our love for and devotion to country.
Does seeing Old Glory flutter in
send a message to your mind of the freedoms that have been won dearly
we enjoy today? Let us take a little journey back into history. Maybe
refresh our patriotism and determine to be more loyal to a country that
us "life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness."
The Fourth of July is observed
official birthday of our country. In 1776, the Declaration of
became the document whereby the colonies declared their separation from
not as simple as signing the document penned mainly by Thomas Jefferson
subscribed to by the other four members of the committee. The
Congress debated lines, changed statements. Jefferson,
the youngest of the delegates to the Congress at age 32 had to return
desk and revise the document according to strong suggestions made. The
was approved on July
Prior to adoption of the
Independence, the Colonies were already at war with Britain,
fighting for their rights.
Militia units throughout the colonies were building up supplies and
against encroachments by British soldiers. How well do we remember the
"taxation without representation" and the Boston Tea Party of December 16, 1773
"every chest from the three vessels was knocked to pieces."
There followed what the
as "The Intolerabe Acts," five laws passed by the British Parliament
against the "rebellious" colonists. Each stricture by Britain,
the build up of the Red Coat Army on colonial soil sent strong ripples
dissent throughout the colonies. Tories were the party in the colonies
supported British rule; patriots were forming their own local militia
Patrick Henry, one of the
in the Virginia legislature on March 23, 1775 supporting the resolution
the colony be immediately put in a state of defense and begin to
and men to do battle. Henry's impassioned speech ended with these
"Is life so dear or peace so sweet as to be purchased at the price of
chains and slavery? Forbid it, Almighty God. I know not what course
take, but as for me, give me liberty or give me death!"
We recall the poem by William
Longfellow that made famous the "Midnight Ride of Paul Revere" and
the sign in the old North
Church of lanterns
lighted to alert the militia of the British approach: "one if by land,
if by sea." That date in history was April 18, 1775, more than a year before
Declaration of Independence.
The very next day, April 19, 1975,
British troops were
marching toward Concord,
Massachusetts. At Lexington, the
local militia beat their drums
and fired their guns, providing a brief and unexpected interruption for
advancing British. At that confrontation, eight of the militia were
The British troops continued
and it was there, on April
20, 1775, that the famous "shot heard 'round the world"
was fired. The militia had been instructed not to fire unless fired
Because of the brave fighting of the Americans, the British retreated
Militia throughout the colonies
alert, building their supplies and recruits. It was on June 15, 1775 that
was chosen by the Continental Congress meeting in Philadelphia to become
the American armies. He had an almost impossible task both in
action to bring the scattered militia into a semblance of a united
force. They suffered terribly from the elements, lack of provisions,
The terrible winter at Valley Forge
example of utter hardship.
On June 17, 1775, the famous
Battle of Bunker Hill took
place. American General Israel Putnam had cautioned his men, "Don't
until you see the whites of their eyes." The British far outnumbered
American troops. But at each confrontation, the militia fought
In January of 1776, the pamphlet
"Common Sense" written by Thomas Paine was widely circulated in the
colonies. In it, Paine advocated separation from England,
"virtue is not hereditary" and "We are not Englishmen; we are
Americans." This set the stage for Virginia's
Richard Henry Lee to make the statement in the meeting of the
Congress in June, 1776: "These United States are, and of
ought to be, free and independent states." His words, almost verbatim,
were included in the Declaration of Independence written by Thomas
using political philosophy advocated by the seventeenth century
Englishman John Locke, and bearing the meaningful words we have come to
cherish: "All men are created equal" and among their rights are
"life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness."
We know the story. Many of our
took up arms against the British. America won freedom at a
in lives and fortunes. Since the surrender of British General
Cornwallis at Yorktown
on October 19, 1781,
has been on the road to the liberties applauded in the Declaration of
Independence. A nation, even at one time divided into North and South
bitter conflict, has survived. It has been 231 years since the birth of
nation on July 4,
At the famed battle of Yorktown,
the flag with its stars and stripes was mounted and fluttered in the
Private Joseph Martin wrote: "I felt a secret pride swell in my heart
I saw the star-spangled banner waving majestically."
And so may our pride and
patriotism rise for
this "land of the free and the home of the brave." May we never take
our blessings and privileges for granted.
Jones; published July 5, 2007 in The Union Sentinel, Blairsville,
Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.
Jones is a retired educator,
freelance writer, poet, and historian. She may be reached at
phone 478-453-8751; or mail 1708 Cedarwood Road, Milledgeville, GA
Updated August 8,
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