The current climate in this country, at least among most people who read my stuff, isn’t very hospitable to patriotism. Allot of you balk at the notion, and give the flag the finger instead of a salute. You dwell on everything that’s wrong NOW.
NOW however in not what Independence day is about. It’s not actually a celebration of the U.S.A . It is about the declaration of Independence and everything that it stood for and what immediately followed after. I know most of my readers went to college and probably got a completely different set of information about the revolutionary war. I got fed all that stuff too, who was in it for the money and who owned slaves and blah blah blah whitey is bad. Here’s the rest though, allot of them didn’t own slaves, allot of them weren’t in it for the money, allot of them could have lived long, happy and wealthy lives without signing that document.
You know why john Hancock’s signature is so big on that piece of paper? Or why signing something is referred to a s “putting your John Hancock on it”? Because signing that document was signing your own death warrant. That document was essentially giving the middle finger to an evil, possibly crazy, incredibly powerful King who watched people who disagreed with him die in slow and painful ways. As you can imagine after all the fancy words were written, and it began to sink in that all their lives could very well be worthless if they signed it, there was a long pause…then in a display of good old American bravado, possibly the first example of such a thing…John Handcock marched up and wrote his name big enough to be seen from London. Of the 56 people who signed , 5 were captured and tortured to death, nine were killed in battle, two had their families captured, two had their sons killed in battle, 12 had their houses burned to the ground and livestock slaughtered. Not exactly the kind of document you sign in order to make an extra 15% revenue over the fiscal year.
Here’s one of my favorite stories. Thomas Nelson Jr. had his entire town taken over by the British with his family still there. The slimy redcoats set up shop near his home thinking that that the rebels would not direct their fire at one of their leaders homes…which they didn’t…UNTIL Nelson, realizing the situation, walked up to a cannon and shot a cannon ball directly into his own home…”there…now kill the rest of them”.
I say “slimy Redcoats” because it was a different time. England wasn’t a laughable shadow of a country full of bad teeth and worse t.v. shows. It was an empire. It controlled most of the globe. I say “controlled” because that is the best way to describe it. When the red coats rolled in, that meant the king of England was now in charge. In charge of what you produced, how much you made, how much food you got. They took anything useful and if you could produce something, or had a skill that would benefit the king…that was your new life’s work. Much of the globe was under the flag of the tyrannical, unbeatable British Empire. So far you’ve heard stories like this before. Usually the empire is beaten by some young upstarts, or rag tag rebels, or Luke Skywalker firing a laser into the death star for the honor of his dead parents.
That doesn’t really happen much. The reason empires become empires and remain empires is because they are organized, well supplied, diabolically smart and have a ruthless unshakeable leader that the troops don’t dare fail. So the fairy tale of freedom loving, good hearted, bands of people rising up usually results in freedom loving, good hearted, bands of people being slaughtered.
So…why are we here, under our own flag?
Let me sum it up…England decided to occupy the new world, in order to occupy someplace you need to have people there… Their plan was, as it usually was, fill the place up with brits, stick a flag in the ground…rinse repeat. They allowed everyone who was ambitious and daring to colonize under the British flag…since this new world was ACTUALLY new and not some country the brits conquered because everyone there was poor and/or hapless, THIS new world attracted a higher breed of adventurer. but the new world was BIG, so that wasn’t quite enough people…so they ALSO sent all their outcasts, opportunists, prisoners, undesirables like criminals and dissidents, religious trouble makers. This along with the usual glory seekers, adventurers and people with nothing to lose made up the British population in the new world.
Read that list back to yourself and it seems pretty obvious what was going to happen.
That isn’t a list of people who are in the habit of putting up with a lot of crap. The nature of man is often, instead of over throwing off the yolk of oppression, to say “hey so and so doesn’t have to put up with this”. The oppressor then makes “so and so” follow the same oppressive rules and everyone shuts up because it is now fair…forgetting the point was that the rules sucked in the first place. Well a list of people like I described don’t operate under that M.O. Predictably they told the King of England to get bent. No big deal, England has dealt with uprisings before. Remember they are ruthless, organized, well supplied, and smart and have a diabolical, unshakable leader.
Let’s look at the tale of the tape though shall we?
Ruthless- did I mention all the criminals we had over here? Criminals that had been jerked around by the British since they were born? Criminals that had survived 18th century prisons? Criminals that were not going to give you a fair fight in the middle of an open field when they could just as easily shoot you in the back while hidden in the brush.
Organized- These people were running businesses that were a three month boat ride away from civilization. They were handling logistics on three or four different continents at a time. Here’s a little story you never hear…the brits had control of a city and were going to begin sending troops out of that city to slaughter the rebels…there didn’t seem to be any resistance of note in the area and it was getting late “we’ll just leave in the morning.” When they woke up they found themselves in a city that was surrounded by giant log barricades with rebels perched behind waiting to blow their brains out. See, while the brits were having tea, the rebels were building portable barricades deep in the forest away from prying eyes, so that in the still of ONE night they could drag them all out and surround the ENTIRE CITY WITH LOG WALLS while the enemy was sleeping. Organized enough for you?
Well supplied- this is usually the hardest thing to overcome…however the British supply chain went from the New England shores allllll the way back to England via a two to three month boat ride. The rebels on the other hand were firmly entrenched on the nicest farmland on earth.
Diabolically smart- how about the guy who discovered electricity? Smart enough for you? So smart in fact that he knew the brits might still be able to overcome all this and so he went to England’s rival, France, and said “hey…how would you like to really stick it to those redcoats?” He knew if he could just get help from one of Britian’s many enemies, victory could be achieved by stalling long enough for the whole thing to become a clusterf*ck where the only party able to feed themselves long enough to win would be the U.S.A.
Even those greedy rich white guys played a part. The minds that spent their lives figuring out how to find loopholes in contracts to make a few more pounds…they where applying that same opportunistic intellect to figuring out how to beat the British- how to get food and weapons cheap and from point A to point B, what goods to buy up overseas so that the British would have a shortage, what supply lines to fill up with useless items so there would be no room for supplies the British troops would need.
And those religious outcasts and dissidents? They knew how and where to peddle propaganda, not just to bolster our side but to deteriorate the moral of the British. “hey redcoat did you see that story in the paper about the big party your king threw while you were getting shot at?…how about that one describing how beautiful it is in England right now…oh I’m sorry are you homesick? Are you losing the will to get shot at by guys hiding in the trees while you stand in a field in a big red jacket like an idiot?…what? I’m not a traitor, you can’t shut down my press for distributing papers about how beautiful England is…or celebrating the Kings birthday. If you want me to stop printing those things then it sounds to me like YOU are the turncoat!! But thanks for sending valuable troops here to question me instead of killing our men.”
Unshakeable leader that the troops don’t dare fail- How about that guy one the one dollar bill? He managed to have men keep fighting through starvation, hypothermia, and insurmountable odds. How did he do this? King George commanded through fear, intimidation, and whatever mystique surrounded wearing the crown. Washington, I hear, gave pretty good half time speeches and oozed honor, he was one of those guys whose very presence seems to command respect. That probably played a part, but what also played a part was that he wasn’t sitting on a throne in a castle somewhere. He was ON A HORSE KILLING GUYS WITH A SWORD, Or in a tent pouring over maps close enough to the cannon fire to rattle his wooden teeth. Washington was working his ass off and it’s a hell of a lot harder to walk off on a guy like that than a fat guy on a throne.
Another thing that may have played a part was his innovation. Tell a bunch of guys that they are going headlong into a line of redcoats and a pep talk is only going to get you so far. BUT tell a bunch of guys to fire one shot then run like hell so they chase you over the hill where our cannons are waiting to blow them back to England…and you are going to get a few more volunteers. Small victories with guerilla tactics kept moral up. Are you cold? Yes. Are you hungry? Yes. Are you losing? Nope. Not in any way they could see anyhow. Washington choose his battles, He would run when necessary, wait when necessary, he would not fight unless he had to or was sure of victory. So even though the big picture was that the rebels were being chased all over the country and hiding, the small picture was they were killing a lot of brits and doing it in new innovative ways. They were fighting a war in a way that had never been done before. So while their commanding officer may have lead them into starvation and frost bite…they knew he wouldn’t lead them into a slaughter. They all felt that when he sounded the battle horn they were going to win. They believed in him.
Our criminals were good at cutting your throat, our diplomats were good at rousing your enemies, our dissidents and religious outcasts were good at maintaining moral and destroying yours, our businessmen were good at having you sitting on a dock waiting for a boat of supplies that is currently taking barrels of purple dye to north Hampton while your country loses a war.
The big difference was…we had all the best players..by and large the smartest, the meanest, the toughest, the most ruthless of all the British citizens were on our side.
Now…you no doubt have been told that the leaders of the U.S. side were doing it out of greed or wanted power or what have you. To which I would say, greed doesn’t put you on a horse with a sword in your hand… especially when you are wealthy already. No one faces cannon fire over a 15% lose in income. And again…look at that list. Greed and power wouldn’t join all those people together. Hell, even hatred only gets you so far. People motivated by hate are easily turned to hating something else. The people on that list were united by one thing. They wanted freedom. That was the motivation. Their OWN country, with their OWN laws and their OWN leaders. They, for whatever faults they had, were fighting oppression.
THAT is what we are celebrating. We are celebrating one of the few times in human history that oppression was met and beaten.
Maybe you think this country itself has turned the corner into being oppressive, all the more reason to celebrate Independence Day and to be inspired by it. To be Inspired by those men. We are the UNITED STATES OF AMERICA. UNITED being the key word here. WE were founded by dissidents, criminals, cut throats, businessmen, professional solders, and religious zealots who UNITED against the one thing worse than all of them…a murderous, oppressive, tyrannical government.
THAT is why this is the greatest country on earth, because of the gene pool we started with. In, each and every one of us…is the DNA of someone who got fed up and was willing to risk everything for something better. Someone who would not put up with it, someone who was willing to leave everything and start over, someone with guts, and ambition and problem solving skills and the fortitude to put those skills to use. Our gen pool is made up of the world’s most daring men and women. Me, you, them….all of use, somewhere down the line had an ancestor who said “the hell with it” and then came here. “The blacks where forced to come here and blah blah blah”. Yeah? Well guess what, the family lines of the meek don’t last long in this country. The black families who exist now come from ancestors who escaped to the north, or fought in the Revolutionary war, or fought in the civil war, or took that freedom after the civil war and did something with it, and fought for civil rights and then did something with it. A family line doesn’t last for 200 years in this country unless someone in that gene pool was a badass. Our greatness has been bread into us.
Our heritage, fraught with blood , corruption, and mistakes though it may be, is damn impressive.
This is OUR country. OURS. We don’t have anything more to be ashamed of than any other country on the globe. There isn’t a country on this planet who’s history isn’t soaked in blood. We, however have a hell of allot more to be proud of. The difference is we FIX our problems here. This too stems from the original team we had. Those smart guys making the founding documents realized that they were in bed with criminals and cut throats, so they made a document that could be updated…perhaps at some point in the future where the country wasn’t fighting for existence and needed every able bodied cut throat no matter what their lack of enlightenment. And it was changed and updated and will continue to be Because it’s in our blood to do so. It is in our blood to improve things. That guy you disagree with on everything…he’s an American and he’s bitching and moaning because he sees things he wants to fix.
That’s our job at this point, the heavy lifting was done by guys with swords and muskets. Our job is the same, to fight off oppression and improve things. Our enemy is the same, corrupt a-holes. Fortunately the majority of us can do the job with our brains and our mouths and our keyboards and our votes. Anything you see wrong with this country, with this government, remember this- the Declaration of Independence, the document that said tyranny and oppression doesn’t have a home here, was signed by 56 men…there are 300 million of us now. Have a hot dog, light some fireworks and then get back to the fight.
When Douglas is not venting here, he and his work can be found at www.arseniclullabies.com