After last week’s Supreme Court decision upholding Obamacare I’m thinking we have a bit less to celebrate this year on Independence Day. Hopefully next year will be better. This Independence Day let’s remember that freedom isn’t free, and even the declaration of independence from England was not a sure thing.
Here’s my favorite scene from the John Adams miniseries that HBO ran a few years ago. It was a great series, and the DVD set is still available on Amazon if you want to watch it. We actually waited to cancel HBO until we had seen the entire series.
Be sure to read about the rocky road to independence over at Maggie’s Notebook. One guy you don’t hear too much about is Caesar Rodney from Delaware. He rode eighty miles through the night to make it there in time to cast his vote. His vote was especially important because the other two Delaware delegates were deadlocked – one was for declaring independence and one was against. Despite his poor health and being severely disfigured due to skin cancer, Rodney literally rode to the rescue.
Thus the Delware delegation was deadlocked and in danger of voiding the entire Declaration. Mr. Jefferson’s eloquent call for a revolution to protect the rights to “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness” almost went unheeded.
Caesar Rodney could not let that happen. Upon being notified of the situation, Mr. Rodney made a midnight ride from Delaware to Philadelphia that dwarfs even the famous ride of Paul Revere in importance. Mr. Revere’s ride was indeed a call for readiness in the defense of liberty, but it was Mr. Rodney’s ride that quite literally turned the wheel of history and changed the world.
Caesar Rodney’s ride spanned 80 miles during oppressive summer heat, violent summertime thunderstorms and the accompanying torrential rain. It was a ride that would have challenged a man in good health, but to a man in Rodney’s condition, it was almost certain to be fatal.
Through the mud and cobblestone streets, Caesar Rodney somehow made his way alone to Philadelphia. He was racing toward his destiny. A destiny which would make him a marked man in the eyes of the British crown and quite possibly serve as his death sentence (assuming he survived the ride!)
Through a mixture of the hand of Providence and his own indelible passion for liberty, Caesar Rodney made it to the floor and cast the deciding vote for Delaware in favor of Jefferson’s Declaration of Independence. As he casted his vote, it is recorded that he said,”As I believe the voice of my constituents and of all sensible and honest men is in favor of independence, my own judgement concurs with them. I vote for independence.”
Thus, defying the elements and the illness that ravaged his body, Caesar Rodney put his own sacred honor on the line in the defense of liberty. His vote put Delaware in the “yes” column ensuring that the Declaration of Independence would pass and that a new American nation “conceived in liberty” would rise from the ashes of monarchical oppression. The world had its shining city on a hill to serve as a beacon of freedom to the world.
Be sure to read the whole thing, raise a glass and toast the spirit of Caesar Rodney, and all of the other patriots who made this country great. We need to revive that spirit to restore this republic before it’s too late. Teach your children, grandchildren, nieces and nephews what it means to be American, and what it took for the United States to become a republic. Teach them about great men like Caesar Rodney who put it all on the line so that they could live free. Teach them how our current crop of politicians are doing everything they can to destroy the freedoms so many have fought and died for. You know they won’t be learning it in school.