I’ll never understand the fascination of some people to light their own fireworks, which are always subpar in comparison to the real thing and occasionally result in serious injuries, permanent maiming, and house fires.
When I was growing up in Massachusetts, the purchase or ownership of fireworks was illegal. This, in my mind, made a hell of a lot of sense, even as a child.
Only 58% of Americans understand what actually happened on July 4, 1776 (which is almost nothing, since the vote for independence was actually taken on July 2, 1776), but still… c’mon people. You should know what we’re celebrating today.
Presidents Thomas Jefferson, John Adams, and James Monroe - Founding Fathers who all played important roles in the Revolutionary War - died on July 4. I don’t support death, but if you’re going to die, I appreciate a well-timed demise.
Meteorologists are predicting extreme heat and intense thunderstorms in Washington, DC today. Given that Trump has illegally diverted money from the US Park service to pay for his vanity project and politicized the event by giving VIP tickets to wealthy Republican donors, I’m happy to see that Mother Nature has decided to spoil his party at least a little bit.
Military leaders, reportedly extremely uncomfortable with the politicization of the armed forces by Trump, have refused to allow tanks to drive down the streets of Washington. Instead, two tanks will be placed on flatbed trucks and remain stationary throughout the day, so what Trump once envisioned as a military parade is now a slightly more intense version of your everyday Touch-a-Truck event. Another reason to celebrate.
My favorite Fourth of July celebrations took place on my grandparents’ farm. I grew up next door to my grandparents, and nothing was better than smelling the burgers and the hot dogs from by backyard and running up the hill to celebrate.
Please take a moment today amidst the parades, fireworks, and hot dogs to reflect upon the sacrifices made by our Founding Fathers, who built this country through sweat, blood, and desire. As for me, I’ll be thinking about Samuel Whittemore, who might just be the toughest old guy in the history of the world.
Born in England in 1694, Whittemore went to North America in 1745 as a captain in the British army, where he fought in King George's War (1744-48) at the age of 50 and the French and Indian War (1754-63) at the age of 64.
Then on April 19, 1775, at the age of 80, he engaged British forces returning from the Battles of Lexington and Concord at the onset of the Revolutionary War.
Whittemore was in his fields when he spotted an approaching British relief brigade under Earl Percy, sent to assist the retreat. Whittemore loaded his musket and ambushed the British from behind a nearby stone wall, killing one soldier. He then drew his dueling pistols and killed a grenadier and mortally wounded a second. By the time Whittemore had fired his third shot, a British detachment reached his position; Whittemore drew his sword and attacked. He was shot in the face, bayoneted thirteen times, and left for dead in a pool of blood. He was found alive, trying to load his musket to fight again. He was taken to Dr. Cotton Tufts of Medford, who perceived no hope for his survival. However, Whittemore lived another 18 years until dying of natural causes at the age of 98.
In 2005, Whittemore was proclaimed the official state hero of Massachusetts. Not bad considering this is a state that produced such wartime heroes as Paul Revere, Israel Putnam, John Hancock, Robert Shaw and John Kennedy.
All great men, but if I were sent to war, I’d choose Samuel Whittemore to stand on my side above them all.
Happy Fourth of July everyone.