Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

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July 4, 2013

Fourth of July

A day to celebrate our freedoms

— — Two hundred and thirty-seven years today, a remarkable event started when a group of people daringly applied their names to a document informing King Charles III of England, one of the most powerful men in the world, about their decision. Fed up with inequality and tyranny, England’s colonies in America were declaring their independence.

In the late 18th century, the British Empire spanned the globe. It was the closest thing one could call a superpower in those days. The empire boasted a powerful army and an even more powerful navy. The idea of a small group of colonies with a volunteer army and a virtually nonexistent navy standing up to the empire’s military might was, to many people, laughable. Many in England expected to see this rebellion put down quickly, and they came close to being right.

With some luck, skill, perseverance and a belief in a higher cause, the American colonies prevailed and eventually won independence from England. The struggle, however, did not end there. Next came the great task of forming a new type of government, one without kings or other hereditary rulers, and one with rights for all the people. It was new territory for everyone involved; yet they managed to form a government. The American Revolution succeeded.

Of course, this new nation was far from perfect. The unresolved issue of slavery and states rights eventually led to a terrible Civil War. The United States, still a new entity, managed to come through the war and become stronger. Slavery was abolished. The struggle for all Americans to be truly equal continued into the 20th century and still continues into the 21st century. America’s democracy has always been a work in progress.

The nation has also had to face threats from outside. Americans have repeatedly gone overseas to face down dictators lusting for world power and terrorists who threaten the nation’s safety. Many Americans right here in southern West Virginia and Southwest Virginia have made the ultimate sacrifice to ensure the safety of the nation their ancestors fought create.

The Fourth of July is a time for family reunions, hot dogs, baseball games and fireworks. It’s easy to forget all the sacrifices made and the turmoil endured to make this day possible. Today is a good day to remember everyone who had a hand in creating the United States and keeping it going.

 Veterans, activists who advocated civil rights for everyone, people who dedicated their lives to public service, and many others deserve our thanks and support. The Fourth of July celebrates the birth of the United States of America and the people who started the dream of freedom and worked to keep the dream alive.

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