The Fourth of July

Yesterday we celebrated the 245th anniversary of our nation’s birth.  That’s a rather short span of human history.  Some nations have lived much longer – some not so long.  Most of our citizens are proud of our country and are pleased to be called Americans. A few disgruntled residents prefer to find fault and want to overthrow the established order. What form of government they wish to replace it with is uncertain.  I believe these people to be historically illiterate, and some appear mentally unbalanced.

The first year of independence was very hazardous for our new nation, and we were fortunate to survive it. In the months following the Declaration of Independence in July, 1776, George Washington and his army were driven out of New York and New Jersey.  The American won a surprise victory at Trenton in late December, 1776, but battlefield results were generally discouraging.  By July, 1777, the nation’s first anniversary, a large British army under Burgoyne was moving down from Canada to split the American colonies, north from south, and in September Washington was driven from Philadelphia.  The outlook appeared dire.  A month later, in October, Burgoyne was defeated and his army surrendered, marking the true turning point in the war.  Much travail remained, but with the French alliance in February, 1778, the prospect of final victory became much brighter.  It was assured with the surrender of Cornwallis at Yorktown in October, 1781.

Many good men and women have given their lives to preserve our independence.  Countless others have served our nation well in peace and war.  Give them the respect that they deserve.

When my family was young, we often celebrated July 4th with a picnic and a trip to nearby fireworks.  I particularly recall many delightful evenings with friends and neighbors sitting on the grassy banks of Lake Kittamagundi in downtown Columbia, Maryland, and watching some spectacular displays.

My most memorable 4th was July 4, 1953.  I flew into Korea early that morning along with a small detachment of men to establish a forward headquarters for the 24th Infantry Division.  Later that evening the area was struck by a typhoon, and the large squad tent in which we were quartered collapsed because of the wind and rain.  All of us fled to headquarters, which had been set up in a quonset hut.  Unfortunately, with the force of the storm and the torrential downpour, the hut was leaking like a sieve.  I managed to get a little sleep by inflating an air mattress and parking myself under a table to keep the rain off my face.

The war ended a few weeks later, and I came out of it without a scratch. Tens of thousands of my fellow soldiers were not so fortunate. May God bless their memory.

Quonset Hut

And God bless America!

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