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Saturday, June 28, 2008

THE SACRED FIRE OF LIBERTY

“The preservation of the sacred fire of liberty and the destiny of the republican model of government are justly considered as deeply, perhaps as finally, staked on the experiment entrusted to the hands of the American people.”

George Washington First Inaugural Address April 30, 1789

“And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of Divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other, our Lives, our Fortunes, and our sacred Honor.”

Declaration of Independence July 4th, 1776


“Sacred” is a word which has almost disappeared out of our modern lexicon and discourse and yet we find that it was an indispensable and valued concept during our founding period as detailed above. The 1828 Webster’s dictionary defines sacred in this way: “Holy, separated from common secular uses and consecrated to God; Proceeding from God; Relating to religion or worship of God as sacred songs or sacred history; Entitled to reverence; and Inviolable, as if appropriated to a superior being as sacred honor or promise”. Perhaps reviewing this definition will help you as much as it helped me to understand the essence and thrust of our founder’s thinking during this critical time. As the time draws near for celebrating this July 4th, 2008 please allow me to remind you of some historical truths.

First off let us consider those 56 men who boldly signed their names to the Declaration of Independence. History records that 53 of the signers were men who practiced the Christian faith and, as I recall, the other three were Deist. Thus it was not a foreign concept for them to, not only say, but to insist the Declaration conclude with this phrase “-And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of Divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes, and our sacred Honor”, which described and affirmed their basic belief system. Because of their faith and because they looked beyond themselves for meaning and purpose for their lives, they we able to strike this unprecedented covenant with each other.

Just, for a moment, try to imagine placing yourself into a similar arrangement today with 55 other folks, especially with the “odds” they had for success. Moreover, can you picture any 56 of today’s politicians entering into such a personally risky agreement? A few of these men did indeed lose their lives or their health, wealth, or family, however only Richard Stockton of New Jersey, surrendered his “sacred honor”. Indeed they were willing to offer their very life for liberty; they were willing to sacrifice their fortunes for liberty; and in so doing their personal honor became a sacred possession to never be surrendered.

The great patriot Patrick Henry had eloquently and publicly stated his position to his fellow Virginians on March 23, 1775. The House of Burgesses was leaning toward not sending troops until his impassioned speech which ended--- “Is life so dear, or peace so sweet, as to be purchased at the price of chains and slavery? Forbid it, Almighty God! I know not what course others may take; but as for me give me liberty or give me death”. I recommend that you take five minutes and read the entire speech online and perhaps share it with your children or grandchildren. They may never learn of these events if we do not serve them in this way. Please remember that Patrick Henry was just one of the 2.5 million colonist who were divided approximately as 1/3 Patriots, 1/3 Tories and 1/3 neutral therefore roughly 800k to 900k were Patriots or “the for-the-war or all-for-liberty crowd”. They did not wait for a “majority” to materialize or for a poll to be taken before they acted. In fact history records 217,000 of them to have been veterans of the ensuing war. Try doing the math on what that would translate to with 300m Americans.

Next let us fast forward almost 13 years to April 30, 1789 and the first inaugural and again we find sacred to be a defining and operative term. Thomas Jefferson, a Deist and author of the Declaration of Independence, had said “the God who gave us life gave us liberty at the same time”. And so it is not surprising that George Washington, a devout Christian, would refer to liberty as a sacred commodity. The thought I wish to leave you with is that Washington was looking down across history to future generations---to you and I. As Commander-In-Chief of the armies, General Washington had often acknowledged the hand of Providence in the outcome of critical battles and often issued general orders reflecting his faith. Just prior to the “first” Independence Day, on July 2, 1776, he issued the following general order; “The General hopes and trusts, that every officer and man, will endeavor so to live, and act, as becomes a Christian Soldier defending the dearest Rights and Liberties of his country”. As he took office as the first President of a new nation, he knew full well that in all of history there had never been a constitutional republic such as he now led. He also knew that “the preservation of the sacred fire of liberty” was to be totally dependent upon “we the people”.

As we prepare to perhaps rest and relax and enjoy our liberty a bit this 4th of July why not remember some of the brave Americans and their families who today live sacrificial lives “defending the dearest Rights and Liberties” against hostile forces in foreign lands. We must also, in a post 9-11 world, remember those who maintain an eternal vigilance here at home policing our homeland for both terrorist as well as an increasingly violent criminal element. Instead of just being truly thankful for your liberty, which is very, very important, why not plan on doing something in the next few days or weeks, individually or as a family, to sorta put legs to your gratitude. Conversely to do nothing, in my view, may in fact actually assist in snuffing out the sacred fire of liberty.

Prepared by:
John R. “Barney” Barnes
Commander USN (R)
24 June 2008

Lee County Native Jake Smith

Check out the "In the News" column. If you have something that would be of interest to our readers let me know; we will get the word out!

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Take a look at the Gathering of the Classes section

On the far right is a new link to the Gathering of the Classes blog site! This is new and I'm sure you will want to visit this site now.

Thursday, June 05, 2008

Carolina On My Mind

Got a moment? If you do go to The South Carolina Information Highway webpage and take a look at what they have to say about the song "Carolina On My Mind" and Hank Martin. While you are at it you may want to click on the title to this post and visit Hank's website.

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

June's Birthdays

Bill McDermott's birthday is June 8th
Cecil Watkin's birthday is June 14th
Jimmy Stuckey's birthday is June 22nd

It's Crunch Time!

Date: June 2, 2008
From: John Reames
To: Classmates and Supporters of Bishopville High School
Subject: Reunion Report


At press time there are less than 50 days left until the Gathering of the Classes II Reunion and Inaugural Golf Tourney. Everything (tours, venue, entertainment, caterers, Golf Tourney, Memory Book, etc.) is on hold until we develop a clearer accounting as to the numbers attending, therefore it is central to the success of this reunion that you send your registration fees now.

Reunion Fee Information

Postmarked by June 26, 2008: $35/person or $60/couple

Postmarked after June 26, 2008: $40/person or $70/couple

On-Site Registration: $45/person or $80/couple

Golf Fee Information

Postmarked by June 26, 2008: $20/person

Postmarked after June 26, 2008: $20/person

On-site registration: $30/person (if opening available)

Cancellations

No refunds after 7/14/08; substitutes allowed for another classmate, spouse/guests only; all attendees must be at least 21 years old; there is a $5.00 non-refundable fee on all cancellations.

Refunds will be mailed within 4-5 weeks after reunion dates. We accept Money Orders, Cashier Checks, and/or Personal checks made payable to Gathering of the Classes II by end of day on Friday, July 18th, one week prior to the reunion. Afterwards, please register on-site at the on-site fee(s) published above.

Mail to: Gathering of the Classes II, PO Box 7363, Sumter, SC 29150
Contact Information: John Reames, PO Box 7363, Sumter, SC; Phone 803.720.5007 E-mail: johnreames@sc.rr.com


Thanks!

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