For seven years, I lived with my wife in the town that I consider to be the birthplace of this great nation – Boston, Massachusetts.
For a young man who grew up in a town of only 2,400 people in the middle of Indiana, living in a large city like Boston was a heady experience. But for a man who loved history – the thought of being able to trod the steps of a town where John Hancock, Sam Adams, John Adams, Robert Treat Paine, and Paul Revere once walked was nothing short of sheer joy.
My parents raised me to respect and love my country and its veterans – my family having had a long history of military service to our nation. This left me with a keen understanding of the sacrifices that have been made so that our nation and its people – and those of its allies – could live in freedom.
My first year in Boston – 1999 – I wandered into town to soak up the sights on July 4th. I caught the tail end of the 4th of July parade – which came to a stop in front of the original capital of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts – the Old State house – where a Navy Captain stepped out on the balcony and introduced the commanding officer of the Ancient and Honorable Artillery Company of Massachusetts.
The Ancient and Honorable Artillery Company is the oldest militia unit in the United States. They date from 1638 – far predating the United States. And a few days after July 4th, 1776 – when a company of the Declaration of Independence arrived in Boston.. they stood out on this same balcony and read the words for the first time in the City of Boston.
And that tradition has continued for more than two hundred years.
I stood – in awe – as the words were read – just a few yards from the site of the Boston Massacre – just a quarter mile from the graves of Hancock, Paine, and Sam Adams.. across the street from Fanueil Hall and around the corner from the Old South Meeting House.. each places where so many gatherings were held to debate whether or not to take the ultimate step.
Massachusetts has another unique holiday that I’ve found in no other place that I’ve lived. On April 19th, 1775, more than a year before the Declaration was signed, a man named Revere set out to warn the Minutemen along the path from Boston to Lexington and Concord about the pending seizure of their arms and stores by the British army.
At a bridge just outside of Concord they finally made a stand – and with that action – and then signing of a document by 56 men a bit over a year later – this country was born.
That day – April 19th – is celebrated annually in Massachusetts as Patriot’s Day. You know it as the day of the Boston Marathon, but for those that have visited Concord and Lexington, that day holds an entirely different meaning.
There’s much I don’t miss about Boston – the traffic, the cost of living, Senators Kennedy and Kerry, and others… but on July 4th, there’s nowhere I’d rather be.
Happy Birthday America!
We, therefore, the Representatives of the united States of America, in General Congress, Assembled, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of our intentions, do, in the Name, and by the Authority of the good People of these Colonies, solemnly publish and declare, That these United Colonies are, and of Right ought to be Free and Independent States; that they are Absolved from all Allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political connection between them and the State of Great Britain, is and ought to be totally dissolved; and that as Free and Independent States, they have full Power to levy War, conclude Peace, contract Alliances, establish Commerce, and to do all other Acts and Things which Independent States may of right do. And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes and our sacred Honor.