I listened to the sound of fireworks in the far off as I peered up at the night sky. The slightly illuminated cloud formations danced with the sound of rolling explosions. I couldn’t always see the fireworks, but I could hear the symphony of the cannons firing them. Explosion after explosion rolled through the air like thunder. I could almost imagine what it was like to live just outside a besieged town, to see the flashes of cannon light up the sky, to hear the air and sometimes the ground tremble with the explosions. Would the tide of war turn toward or away from us?
(Photo credit: grayling-mi.com)
That was the question of July 4th in years prior. On July 4, 1776, 56 brave men had enough guts and the fear of God to stand up to a tyrannical government at the cost of their own lives, families, and fortunes, and signed the Declaration of Independence-effectively freeing themselves from the tyrannical government of England. These men knew that God had a plan and a purpose for each life, and they could only fulfill that plan as sovereign men serving God, not a man bent on destruction. Almost every one of these men would die, lose a child, lose the home and fortune or child to war, or lose their fortune because of the stand they took for liberty. What a mighty weight to carry. Yet, because of their steadfastness, we can call ourselves Americans today.
Eighty-five years later, just a few months prior to July 4th, the Southern States declared their independence from the Union and fired on Fort Sumter from April 12-14, 1861. Union President Lincoln would send troops, and take other actions against the Southerners WITHOUT Congressional approval. On July 4th, 1861, he would stand and address Congress, and ask them to approve his actions after the fact (which was, and is, against the very laws of the land). It was here that Lincoln proved his purpose for the war was to stop the “rebellion” of the Southern states and punish them for their actions (See his speech given to Congress, July 4, 1861).
But stopping the “rebellion” didn’t come for some time. It can be argued that these men who seceded from the Union were the true Americans in the equation. They had found themselves under a tyrant in the government once again, and were standing by what the Founding Fathers had written. The country had been built on the basis of states first, government last. States had the majority of the rights and power over its citizens and finances, the federal government was to have very little. But with Lincoln’s progressive regime, that all changed. The South’s response, after years of trying to talk it out, was to do just what their grandfathers had done—pick up their arms and stop tyranny. (P.S. Many do not see it this way, particularly those in the North, or educated from current textbooks. If you have questions, please politely let me know and I will be able to point you to source documents).
Two years later, July 4, 1863 would find the South stopped in their tracks at the battle of Gettysburg. Whereas the first two years had seen the Southern Army walk all over the Northern Army, after the loss of General Jackson at the battle of Chancellorsville, General Lee’s presumed heart attack, and many miscommunications, the Federals obtained the upper hand and won the bloodiest battle of the War Between the States. It was a victory that would turn the tide of the war in favor of the Federals. By July 4, 1865, North and South would find themselves in the process of rejoining as a country, and learning to acknowledge each other once again as fellow countrymen.
In each of these times, 85+ years apart, the theme is the same: Liberty. Liberty at the cost of our lives, fortunes, and sacred honor. The question for each of us to ask ourselves is, “What would I risk or give up for freedom? Would I lay down my life in battle for freedom? Would I be willing to lose everything for my convictions? Would I be willing to lose the children I love so much so that one-day they might be free? Would I be willing to be slandered, persecuted, and destroyed for obedience to the principles of the Bible and the fact that our Creator has endowed EVERY man with certain rights, that among these are, “Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.” These men did in both the first and the second War of Independence. One was won. The other was lost. And yet, in some way, this fight remains in the heart of man. Every time I go onto the field and re-live one of these battles, I try to honor the men and women who went before me, who fought and died for their God-given rights, and so that I might be free.
If it were you, what would you do?