… Remember the sacrifices paid to keep this country, its citizens, its future citizens, its traditions free from tyranny and oppression.
Of course the reason we will all be enjoying the Jersey shore, our National Parks, picnics, fireworks and apple pie is the anniversary of another year of The Grand Experiment, where a collection of 13 former British colonies took the first step towards forming a government “… by the people , for the people…”.
“The preservation of the sacred fire of liberty . . is finally staked, on the experiment entrusted to the hands of the American People.” – George Washington
Thirteen years before Washington spoke those words in his first inaugural speech, fifty-six brave men put their names to a document – The Declaration of Independence – that gave birth to a new country at the risk of their own lives and the success of a rebellion against a powerful European ruler. In 1776, these men dared Great Britain to defy their pledge to pursue life, liberty and happiness.
And on that very same date – exactly 50 years later – in 1826 both John Adams and Thomas Jefferson, the second and third elected Presidents to serve and protect this Grand Experiment succumbed to age and died within hours of each other. In 1831 James Monroe, the 5th U.S. President also passed away.
Today, July 3 marks the anniversary of the high-water mark of the Southern Confederacy’s failed efforts to secede from the Union and enslave African people on plantations and in commerce throughout the South. On this day in 1863, General James Longstreet’s corps, under the command of General Robert E. Lee and led into battle by General George Pickett reached the zenith of the Confederacy’s attack on Northern soil on the final day of the Battle of Gettysburg. At a place known as The Angle Pickett’s Charge marked the ebb of the South’s attempt to force an end to The Civil War by threatening Northern cities and eventually the capital, Washington, D.C..
During the charge approximately 4000 Americans were killed or wounded. The Battle of Gettysburg claimed roughly 35,000 killed and wounded.
The following day, the 87th anniversary of the signing of The Declaration of Independence, the Confederate garrison at Vicksburg, Mississippi under the command of Lt. General John C. Pemberton surrendered to General Ulysses S. Grant’s Army of Tennessee after a six-week siege of the city. 3200 Americans were killed or wounded during the siege.
The one-two punch of Gettysburg and Vicksburg formed a recognizable turning point in the American Civil War as Northern industrial might and an overwhelming population advantage formed an insurmountable barrier to future attempts by the South to force a political capitulation from the North. And although the war dragged on for almost two more years, the South never really threatened the North again.
And finally on July 4, 1944 ….
Private First Class William K. Nakamura distinguished himself by extraordinary heroism in action on 4 July 1944, near Castellina, Italy. During a fierce firefight, Private First Class Nakamura’s platoon became pinned down by enemy machine gun fire from a concealed position. On his own initiative, Private First Class Nakamura crawled 20 yards toward the hostile nest with fire from the enemy machine gun barely missing him. Reaching a point 15 yards from the position, he quickly raised himself to a kneeling position and threw four hand grenades, killing or wounding at least three of the enemy soldiers. The enemy weapon silenced, Private First Class Nakamura crawled back to his platoon, which was able to continue its advance as a result of his courageous action.
Later, his company was ordered to withdraw from the crest of a hill so that a mortar barrage could be placed on the ridge. On his own initiative, Private First Class Nakamura remained in position to cover his comrades’ withdrawal. While moving toward the safety of a wooded draw, his platoon became pinned down by deadly machine gun fire. Crawling to a point from which he could fire on the enemy position, Private First Class Nakamura quickly and accurately fired his weapon to pin down the enemy machine gunners. His platoon was then able to withdraw to safety without further casualties. Private First Class Nakamura was killed during this heroic stand. Private First Class Nakamura’s extraordinary heroism and devotion to duty are in keeping with the highest traditions of military service and reflect great credit on him, his unit, and the United States Army.
Private First Class Nakamura was posthumously awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor.
And so, as you enjoy your holiday, your friends, your family … REMEMBER what it has meant to those who have sacrificed for all of us!