Happy 4th of July Houston County!

By Greg Ritchie

Messenger Reporter

HOUSTON COUNTY –   With celebrations held in Crockett Saturday, June 29, along with downtown parade, festival in the park and dual-climax fireworks show, the official July 4th holiday was set for Thursday. 

Some residents questioned why the fireworks show was held the weekend before the holiday. As reported in The Messenger, the more reputable and quality companies who produce fireworks displays are booked sometimes a year in advance. They also charge premiums for bigger cities, leaving the city of Crockett in an expensive bidding war they might lose, or not want to pay to win. By holding the show a few days early, the city got a first-class fireworks display, with a reasonable budget. 

As we are all reminded each holiday, it’s important to remember “the reason for the season.” While days off, backyard barbecues and a few close calls popping fireworks have become part of the fun, July 4th represents the very meaning of what makes America great, and losing the lessons of the holiday could lead to losing the spirit of what makes America the country it is. 

It seems obvious now, but at the time, people didn’t choose their government, or their form of government. You didn’t vote for kings. As the colonists began to grow and prosper, the idea of a tiny island in Europe controlling a vast and growing continent became absurd. The initial complaint of the American settlers was “taxation without representation.” They understood taxes must be levied to maintain a government. They bristled, however, over the fact they had no representation in the British Parliament, to at least give voice to their concerns. 

How simple it would have been, looking back now, for King George to give the colonists a few seats in Parliament, or allow them to have a local assembly with a small amount of control. Who knows how this could have changed history? Perhaps today we would be more like Canada or Australia, with King Charles’ face on our money. 

The most radical part of the Declaration of Independence, signed in 1776, was the idea the people could modify their government as they saw fit. This declaration, upon which so many other countries based their own governments, gives the people the right to end one system and begin a new one. The founding fathers never promised this would be easy and without losses – as they themselves knew – but granted the people that right. 

Before this declaration, people were subjects, be it to a king or an emperor, or just the local Lord of the Manor. The greatest gift to posterity written in this one document was that people derive their rights directly from God. The people set up a government to organize the protection of those rights, and can change that government when it infringes or no longer adequately safeguards those rights. 

President Joe Biden once warned dissatisfied citizens they would need many jets and nuclear weapons to take on the federal government. For that small group of men in 1776, the task facing them must have seemed just as daunting. To take on the greatest empire at that time, with a navy unequalled in the world, with the finest trained troops and mountains of supplies – with nothing more than muskets and hunting rifles – must have been terrifying. 

It is common to think about the united American patriots, standing together against the British. As usual, history is more complicated. By the end of the war, there were more Americans fighting for England than for America. 

It was only through the unshakeable belief in their destiny and purpose that such a small group of people was able to overcome the odds and prevail over the mightiest country in the world at that time. 

The Messenger wishes a Happy Fourth of July to our readers, and prays for blessings from God upon our country, so that our descendants will be able to celebrate such a document, such people, such strength of character – and hope our citizens today will strive to live up to the mettle of the men who penned that declaration, July 4, 1776. 

Greg Ritchie can be reached at [email protected]

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