Remembering what July 4 is really all about

Greenwich-Voices-DadakisIt was a glorious Greenwich Fourth of July.

The American flag-raising at Town Hall is a wonderful tradition started by Bea Crumbine. It never disappoints and this year was no exception.

How many towns in America start July 4 with dozens of descendants of Revolutionary War soldiers standing to acknowledge their ancestors’ sacrifices? The ceremony ended with the singing of God Bless America while many waved their own American flag to the beat.

Selectman David Theis spoke about the fate of the 56 who signed the Declaration of Independence. Five signers were captured by the British and tortured before they died. Twelve had homes ransacked and burned. Two lost sons in the Revolutionary Army and another had two sons captured. Nine of the 56 fought and died from wounds or hardships of the Revolutionary War. They signed the Declaration of Independence pledging their lives, fortunes and sacred honor.

Mr. Theis’ comments were similar to an email I’ve sent every July 4 for a dozen years to more than 700 friends and associates. The story, which details, by name, the hardships the signers endured, has been around the Internet for years.

While some fact checkers challenge specific assertions, there is no getting around the simple fact that “these courageous men gave you and me a free and independent America. We didn’t just fight the British. We were British subjects. We fought our government. The signers of the Declaration of Independence knew they were considered traitors and the penalty would be death if captured.”

Each year I get the same chill I did the first time I read it. But what’s really special are the responses. They reflect deep respect for our country and gratitude for our forbears’ sacrifices. Many are as insightful as the original. These are a few of them:

“Thanks for sharing. The American Revolution was the only one I know of that was genuine and profoundly important to humanity in all of history.”

“I shared this with my son who has a framed copy of the Declaration of Independence on his wall.”

“Independence Day gives us a lot to ponder.”

“For someone who wasn’t born in this country I truly appreciate your narrative.”

“They’re the kind of men that create a country and not only make it work, but set it up for future greatness.”

“Don’t forget those that were not yet free. Still they fought for the Continental Army against the British… They too were courageous men believing that freedom from Britain would result in their own freedom from slavery.”

“I always love this. My son’s home on leave. He’s part of the Marine Special Forces unit at Quantico. He loved your email. The Marines are with you.”

“We’ve got 20 people over and I read this to them at dinner. The kids were spellbound.”

Many responded that July 4 wouldn’t be complete without it and it’s vital we remember these sacrifices.

As dawn broke July 4 in Greenwich Hospital, one of the greatest generation died at 92. David Curcio preserved American liberty at its darkest hour fighting on Normandy Beach on D-Day. He was later injured, returned to Greenwich raising a wonderful family, always a patriot. It was a poignant juxtaposition. His life’s journey ended as America celebrated her birthday, a nation he fought valiantly and successfully to save.

It’s appropriate once a year to pause and remember where we, as a nation, come from and realize that each of us also has the obligation to make this country great. When our time comes will we show the same courage displayed on July 4, 1776 and by David Curcio in 1944 to do what is right despite the personal consequences.

 

Ed Dadakis is former chairman of the Republican Town Committee and has spent more than 30 years serving on the Representative Town Meeting (RTM). He may be reached at [email protected]

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