By Sam Terry
The Barren County Progress
It’s that time of year again – the Fourth of July is upon us. It’s time to fly the stars and stripes. It’s time for picnics, parades, patriotic music and fireworks. All combined, it’s time to come together as one community to celebrate our country.
While many communities around our country lament that community celebrations are too costly and perhaps too inconvenient to continue, Glasgow and Barren County have a rich tradition of patriotism that is on display throughout the year. The honoring of our veterans and their memory is important to our community as evidenced by Veterans’ Day and Memorial Day observances. The struggle for Civil Rights for all people is celebrated in January on the anniversary of Martin Luther King’s birth.
The Fourth of July – properly known as Independence Day – is the day we set aside to celebrate why all of the above-mentioned persons sacrificed for our country. It is our day to celebrate our freedom – our independence – and how we achieved it. Far too often we forget who truly secured our independence. Later generations have maintained our freedom, but our Revolutionary ancestors deserve the credit for establishing our country as a free and independent nation. We have forgotten all too soon that for 56 determined men, signing the Declaration of Independence was an act of treason and punishable by death. We have forgotten the heroic acts performed by men and women that made the American Revolution successful.
Long after the struggle for independence was past, Thomas Jefferson commented “My God! How little do my countrymen know what precious blessings they are in possession of, and which no other people on earth enjoy!” Now, 236 years later one could revisit the same quote and it would be relevant in our society today. We continue to forget and take our liberties for granted.
James G. Blaine, a former Speaker of the House of Representatives, U.S. Senator, and Secretary of State noted that “the United States is the only country with a known birthday.” Americans have the honor of turning the page of their calendars and noting that our country was born on July 4, 1776 when the Second Continental Congress approved the Declaration of Independence to sever the tie to Great Britain.
Unfortunately, we have all allowed commercialism to overtake the observance of July 4th. We tend to be more interested in material goods on sale at our favorite big-box stores. We tend to anxiously plan our day off from gainful employment with little regard for why we have the day off. We tend to worry about when to purchase gasoline for our cars in order to get the best price on the holiday weekend.
Perhaps we should concentrate on celebrating the day with our families and neighbors and truly remember those who made our independence possible. John Adams, one of the signers of the Declaration of Independence and later President, penned his thoughts about celebrating July 4th. “I believe,” Adams wrote “that it will be celebrated by succeeding generations as the great anniversary festival. It ought to be celebrated by pomp and parade, with shows, games, sports, guns, bells, bonfires, and illuminations (the 18th century term equivalent to our ‘fireworks’) from one end of this continent to the other.”
Later this week and for several days thereafter, we can enjoy the celebrations Adams envisioned. Why not kick off the observance with the Nashville Symphony Orchestra Concert on the Square? Thanks to community-spirited modern-day patriots, the concert is presented as a gift to the community in celebration of our country. While you’re downtown, take a moment and stop at the front entrance of the courthouse and notice the bronze marker memorializing Barren County’s own Revolutionary War soldiers who made their home here a few years after the war. Here are the names of real flesh-and-blood patriots who made it possible for us to be here.
In the meantime, fill the days leading up to The Fourth with memorable activities that your offspring will remember for a lifetime. Finally, on the evening of July 4th, remember Adams’ notion and motor down to Barren River State Park where patriotic citizens and businesses will have prepared a fireworks display for your enjoyment. While you observe the colorful bombs bursting in air, remind yourself that we’re continuing a tradition going back 236 years. Vow to pass on the tradition to the younger generation.
One of the grand notions about celebrating Independence Day is that it is unlike all other holidays. No other country is quite like ours nor can any other country boast of our accomplishments. The Fourth requires no special attire, no particular food, no gifts to be purchased or wrapped – it’s yours for the enjoyment.
However you choose to celebrate this Independence Day, just remember why we celebrate it.