Celebrating Independence Day 2023!
Flags of Valor, CEO, Neil Howell, joins Karen and Jay – as they highlight the Spirit of ’76 and America’s enduring commitment to freedom as we prepare to celebrate Independence Day 2023.
The love for freedom is universal – and timeless. On July 4th, 1776, nearly 250 years ago, a courageous group of colonists took the first bold step - embarking on the greatest journey toward freedom in all of human history. Pledging their lives, their fortunes, and their sacred honor, fifty-six men signed the Declaration of Independence. Today, that spirit still lives on – in our many small towns and communities and deep in the hearts of Americans across our great nation.
When we look back on it, there are certain moments throughout human history whose impact almost seems to transcend time. A few come to mind for me immediately, moments like the end of the American Civil War, the attack on Pearl Harbor, or the fall of the Berlin Wall are each critical junctures in history that have generally affected the entire world in some capacity.
What differentiates the 4th of July from other notable moments in history, however, is the spirit of that moment and how the actions taken by our Founding Fathers seem to truly live on each and every day here in the United States and in other parts of the world. While we may at times take the principles laid out in the Declaration of Independence and the importance of that moment for granted now, when it was signed on July 4th, 1776, nothing of the sort had ever been done in human history, and the implications are still felt around the world to this day. Not only would it usher in unprecedented human freedom and liberty in our newly liberated nation, but it would galvanize others around the world for centuries, even to this day, living under oppression and tyranny to rethink their own systems of governance and demand a democratic system in its place.
Please make sure to celebrate the birth of our nation in the coming week – with family and friends. While there undoubtedly will be hot dogs, barbecues, and outings of all sorts, please also take a moment to reflect on the courage and vision displayed by the American patriots on July 4th, 1776 – and reflect with gratitude on the freedom that we enjoy today. We wish a Happy and Joyous Independence Day to you and your family!
New Hampshire – Leading in the Fight for Independence
New Hampshire is proud to be the first among many. This includes well-established traditions like our First in the Nation Primary status – as well as arguably New Hampshire being the birthplace of the Republican Party. But there is an even more significant ‘first.’ Although not well known, the first battle of the American Revolution actually took place in New Hampshire – as British troops attempted to seize Fort William and Mary in Portsmouth – four months before the Battles of Lexington and Concord.
Meanwhile, however, the Granite State is well known for the prominent role its citizens played in the fight for independence. General John Stark, Dr. Josiah Bartlett, Matthew Thornton, and William Whipple were notable New Hampshire figures who played key roles in the American Revolution. But there is much more to the New Hampshire story than sending delegates to Philadelphia and leading troops on the battlefield. New Hampshire was the first among many and the last to survive to tell the tale. Let’s dive a bit deeper.
In January of 1776, the New Hampshire provincial legislature created a first of its kind constitution in the American Colonies. It established its own set of rules, governing body, and went on to seek independence from Great Britain. It would elect delegates to the Continental Congress and establish militias to fight for freedom - all the things Granite Staters hold so dear.
New Hampshire militia members would stand shoulder to shoulder with troops at almost every major conflict including the Battle of Bunker Hill and the Battle of Bennington. Two of those individuals recognized in New Hampshire with markers are Joel McGregor and Sam Downing.
Joel McGregor, a prisoner of war for eight months, would live out his days in Newport, New Hampshire. He would die at the grand old age of 101, his marker #106 located in Newport states, “believed to have been New Hampshire’s last surviving soldier of the Revolutionary War.” The other figure is Sam Downing who as a boy lived in Antrim, New Hampshire. Amazingly, he would live to be 105 years old and die in Saratoga, New York. His tribute marker resides in the Town of Antrim, New Hampshire and is #178. As a boy, Samuel Downing was an apprentice and ran away to join the army based in Charlestown, New Hampshire. Without a doubt, two extraordinary patriots who were also blessed with long lives!
Our commitment to independence is so strong in New Hampshire that George Washington in 1780 said, “The particular and spirited exertions of the State of New Hampshire to fulfill the objects which we have in view cannot but meet the warmest applause of every lover of their country.”
Honoring and ‘Reliving’ the American Revolution
On April 26, 1775, John Stark of New Hampshire was commissioned as a colonel with orders to enlist men of the Granite State and form a regiment. In short order, 800 proud patriots of New Hampshire were enlisted, and the unit was named the 1st Regiment of New Hampshire. This vital unit played a key role in our battle for independence and was the longest serving unit in the war.
New Hampshire had three units that went through several name changes and reorganizations by the Continental Congress and ultimately, they were merged together to become the NH Battalion. On January 1, 1784, when the Continental Line was reduced to a single regiment - the NH Battalion was disbanded. Today, protectors of preservation are ensuring history is being remembered via reenactments.
Members of NH’s 1st and 2nd Regiments partake in parades, memorial celebrations, programs, and reenactments from Canada to Georgia. Right here in New Hampshire, these and other reenactment regiments come to Charlestown, New Hampshire to the historic Fort at No. 4. Members of the reenactment regiment relive the duties, lifestyles, and moments in time including cooking in the battlefield, maintaining their muskets, and firing cast iron cannons. They invest their own money and time to learn about the era and share their knowledge with the public who attend these major historical recreations.
I encourage readers of the Sunshine Report to pay a visit to the Fort at No. 4 www.fortat4.org or look up where Revolutionary reenactments will be so you can relive history with your own eyes and share the experience with your friends and family.
Positive Profile of the Week: Samuel Wilson – the Real Life ‘Uncle Sam’
This week we are delighted to highlight the life of a Granite Stater from years past – Samuel Wilson of Mason, New Hampshire – also more famously known as ‘Uncle Sam’ – the inspiration for what later became our national caricature or nickname ‘Uncle Sam.’
As the young United States of America sought to establish its identity, it searched for symbols that would help do so. In 1812, a political cartoonist by the name of Thomas Nast immortalized the figure of Uncle Sam in his illustrations. Nast depicted Uncle Sam as a tall and imposing figure, clad in red, white, and blue, with a star-spangled top hat. This iconic representation of Uncle Sam quickly became ingrained in American culture and its national identity.
The story of how this happened is fascinating. Samuel Wilson who had fought in the Revolution went on to run a meat packing business – and later became the meat inspector for the United States army during the War of 1812. His inspection stamp – printed on the packaged meat – read ‘US’ for United States – but became more commonly referred to as standing for the name ‘Uncle Sam.’ Interestingly, Nast’s depiction of the Uncle Sam character looked quite similar to the real-life Samuel Wilson.
Samuel's influence and the nickname "Uncle Sam" were widely known and celebrated in New Hampshire, becoming an emblem of the state's commitment to American ideals.
To this day, New Hampshire proudly embraces its tie to Uncle Sam. The state's residents honor Samuel's legacy through various commemorations and events, particularly during patriotic holidays like Independence Day. Uncle Sam has become an enduring symbol of the state's rich history and its unwavering dedication to the principles that define the United States. In fact, to commemorate his impact, the United States Congress adopted a resolution in September 1961, stating: “Resolved by the Senate and the House of Representatives that the Congress salutes Uncle Sam Wilson …as the progenitor of America's National symbol of Uncle Sam."
We are honored to highlight Samuel Wilson as our ‘Profile of the Week’ and to share this interesting vignette as we prepare to celebrate Independence Day – yet another birthday for ‘Uncle Sam.’
Quotes of the Week: Spirit of ’76!
"We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men are created equal; that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights; that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness." - Thomas Jefferson "The Fourth of July is a day for celebration and solemnity. It is a day to recognize the brave men and women who fought for our independence and to reflect on the principles that make our nation great." - John F. Kennedy "We must be free not because we claim freedom, but because we practice it." - William Faulkner "Independence Day is a time to celebrate our freedom and the principles upon which our country was founded. It is a day to cherish the ideals of liberty, equality, and justice for all." - Ronald Reagan "America was not built on fear. America was built on courage, on imagination, and an unbeatable determination to do the job at hand." - Harry S. Truman