Happy 4th of July! It’s that time once again to celebrate our nation’s Declaration of Independence with family and friends and for many of us a day off.
I remember the 1976 Bicentennial. It was the summer before I turned twenty. I was attending IPFW and living with an elderly woman on W. Wildwood whose father was once Indiana’s Secretary of State and as a very young child she was placed on the lap of First Lady Ida McKinley.
I also remember the delegation from Takaoka, Fort Wayne’s first sister city, who came over to dedicate a friendship garden they had gifted to the city. The garden, full of Japanese trees, shrubs and sculptures is located on the side of the Performing Arts Center closest to the Fort Wayne Museum of Art. At the dedication, Mayor Robert Armstrong addressed the delegation who had an interpreter. Mayor Armstrong started speaking very LOUDLY as if by speaking LOUDER somehow they would understand him.
At the time it was kind of amusing and embarrassing to watch and listen. It makes me think of the present discourse in our country. It seems by yelling, name-calling, finger-pointing, people presume others will see the light of day of their way of thinking and convert to “their side.”
It’s not going to happen this way. Everyone is uniquely raised: even siblings. Ask an oldest sibling if their youngest sibling was raised the same. The reply may be along the line of “No! They got off easy. I got stuck doing a lot more work.” We are all shaped by our gender, our parents, our teachers, subjects we study, our spiritual beliefs, our life experiences, etc.
One of my favorite musicals is 1776. It shows the determination of the delegates from the 13 colonies as they struggle to shape a declaration to free themselves from Great Britain.
The issue of slavery was bitterly debated and Delegate Edward Rutledge of South Carolina sings the song, “Molasses to Rum to Slaves” to John Adams to remind him that it wasn’t only the Southern States that profit from slavery, but the Northern States did too.
The second verse goes:
Who sail the ships out of Boston laden
Ladened with bibles and rum?
Who drinks a toast to the Ivory Coast?
Hail Africa, the slavers have come
New England with bibles and rum
The last verse goes:
Molasses to rum to slaves
Who sail the ships back to Boston
Ladened with gold, see it gleam
Whose fortunes are made in the triangle trade
Hail slavery, the New England dream!
Mr. Adams, I give you a toast:
Hail Boston! Hail Charleston!
Who stinketh the most?
They prevailed and the declaration was signed. It would take another 87 years for the Emancipation Declaration to set them free.
So even though there was major dissent and spirited discussion, the signers did the best they could to break the colonies forever free from Great Britain. Let’s celebrate our freedom to live in a free and diverse country: God Bless America!