Saturday, July 4, 2015
If you are like the millions of Americans with plans for this holiday weekend, you likely won't be reading this until Monday. Today is a day to be anywhere but sitting in front of a computer screen. There are hot dogs to roast and hamburgers to stack so high with lettuce and tomatoes and pickles and maybe even bacon that you can't even get one into your gaping-wide-open-and-watering mouth. Whether it's iced tea and lemonade calling you to relax on the patio, or wild water sports beckoning you to the lake or river, you have so much more to do than catch up on your genealogy reading.
At least, I hope you are taking a pleasant break to enjoy your family's style of remembrance of a key historical turning point in our nation's history—if you are one of this blog's American readers. If you are one of our friends from across the way in the United Kingdom, well, I hope you aren't taking all this too badly. All told, after all these years, the Kingdom has fared quite well without us. And for our friends to the north, you've likely also enjoyed your day of similar celebration on the first of the month, with the best of hearty well-wishes, eh?
I've decided to take a break, myself, to celebrate American Independence Day by finally getting the last of gathered documents scanned and dispatched to the registrar of my local D.A.R. chapter. I know that will please at least one dedicated D.A.R. board member (who has been patiently shepherding me through this process). Though through the process, I've discovered more than one patriot who can qualify me for membership—as well as another one to qualify my daughter and my sisters-in-law, as well—it's best to remember to focus on one goal and get something done.
All this "Bright Shiny" of historical and genealogical research can sometimes be too inspiring. As I work my way through researching the lines of my various ancestors, I get caught up in the human drama that was part of their lives, and forget the research task immediately at hand.
But though that may not be my specific research purpose at the moment, that detour into other branches of the micro-history of personal heritage is an important journey, as well. The unfolding of these personal dramas—especially those during key times during the 1770s and 1780s—make me realize the crux of the struggle we now so blithely celebrate. It's those individual stories of sacrifice, pain, and even loss that awaken me to get in touch with the reality of the immense cost borne by these brave people—the impact that reverberated from the point of each affected patriot through to parents, spouses, and children back home, awaiting word of loved ones in the midst of battle.
And we are their descendants. This is our heritage. That awaited word has made a difference for us, too.
As long as we keep remembering.
Above: "A Ride for Liberty: The Fugitive Slaves," 1862 oil on paper board by American artist Eastman Johnson; courtesy Wikipedia; in the public domain.