Wednesday, July 3, 2013
How does a columnist avoid the clichéd, predictable Fourth of July column? There are some subjects about which almost everything insightful has already been said.
Here are some facts and observations about this holiday:
There is no one definitive source, but information about the feelings of the colonists at the time the Declaration of Independence was written say somewhere between 10 percent and 20 percent of the Americans living in the colonies actively supported the revolutionary movement. Fast-forward to today, in the age of 24-hour cable news and social media. That Tea Party thing in Boston? In one 24-hour cable news cycle, I think those guys would have been portrayed as a bunch of irresponsible hotheads. And as for the hotheads who dared declare independence from the great King of England, can you imagine how they would have been portrayed, given the poll numbers on their stance on revolting?
We are fortunate that our state played a major role in the Revolution. How many South Carolinians remember Carolina Day, June 28, 1776? Growing up playing in and around Fort Moultrie, I have heard folklore all my life about local Revolutionary War battles, our state flag, and the role of the palmetto tree in the defense of Fort Sullivan. Some source-checking leads me to believe that, though all details are not concrete, the basic facts are true. Colonel William Moultrie and small force successfully defended the little palmetto log fort called Forth Sullivan, where Fort Moultrie now stands. It was the first major successful defense for the colonists against the mighty British forces. The spongy palmetto logs absorbed the cannon balls fired from the British ships in the harbor. Though apparently not immediately thereafter, and probably just before the War Between the States, this led to the image of the palmetto tree being placed on the blue flag designed by Moultrie in 1775. That flag had a crescent in the upper left corner. The crescent was likely not a moon, but rather the military gorget (a metal throat guard) symbol worn on the caps of the 2nd South Carolina Regiment. Over time, it has become a “palmetto moon,” and is purported to be the most popular and best selling of all state logos. The victory of Moultrie and his men on Carolina Day illustrates the point, “The guerilla wins when he does not lose. An army loses when it does not win.”
A recent poll shows that a majority of Americans feel the Founding Fathers and the patriots who fought for American independence would not approve of the country as it is today. We’ll never know what South Carolina’s signers of the Declaration of Independence would think, but I have a hunch. How many of us even remember their names? Edward Rutledge, Arthur Middleton, Thomas Lynch, Jr., and Thomas Heyward, Jr. For what ideal did these wealthy, educated Founders risk it all, including their lives? Was it liberty and individual rights, or better government programs and more government control over our lives? There is much that brings us together as we celebrate Independence Day – in fact, we are probably even more united than the population of colonists was at the time the Declaration of Independence was signed.
Will Haynie has published more than 400 oped columns His niche is as a humorous conservative. Find him on Twitter at @willhaynie or email him at Haynie.firstname.lastname@example.org.