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Thoughts and Toasts for Undiminished Devotion on Independence Day:

During this weekend, take some time to remind yourself, and perhaps to teach some younger people, about the blessings of liberty in the United States of America. The Battle of Gettysburg took place this weekend in 1863, so it is certainly appropriate to remember the many heroes of that battle, including Winfield Scott Hancock, whose bravery may have saved the Union during Pickett's charge.

I've long supported reviving the custom of offering 13 patriotic toasts at Independence Day parties. This article collects some of the historic toasts; I've enabled comments so that people can supply some modern toasts. And of course practicing the responsible use of firearms is an excellent way to honor the anniversary of our revolutionary independence, all the better if you can instruct or introduce someone else to responsible gun use. You may also choose to read, or re-read, the words of our Founders. Teaching your children about the first two paragraphs of the Declaration of Independence will help them understand the meaning of the day, and the meaning of their nation.

A few days before Thomas Jefferson died on July 4, 1826--the fiftieth anniversary of the Declaration of Independence--he could see that the revolution he had helped to spark was burning throughout the world. He wrote:

"All eyes are opened, or opening, to the rights of man. The general spread of the light of science has already laid open to every view the palpable truth, that the mass of mankind has not been born with saddles on their backs, nor a favored few booted and spurred, ready to ride them legitimately, by the grace of God. These are the grounds of hope for others. For ourselves, let the annual return of this day forever refresh our recollections of these rights, and an undiminished devotion to them…"

John P. (mail):
My favorite patriotic toast is one of the simplest: "To the Father of our Country."
7.1.2005 1:58pm
TigerHawk (www):
An excellent post. Your original list of toasts could use some updating, though, so I added a few in the tracked post.
7.1.2005 2:01pm
Sigivald (mail):
From the source of all good film quotes that aren't in Ghostbusters: "Here's to the Army and Navy and the battles they have won; here's to America's colors, the colors that never run." Reply: "May the wings of liberty never lose a feather."

My personal favourite: "The Republic!". Short and to the point, isn't it?
7.1.2005 2:35pm
Jam (mail):
"saved the union" and killed the Republic.

sic semper tyrannis
7.1.2005 4:15pm
Andrew Olmsted (mail) (www):
Don't forget the probably more important, albeit less-heralded Federal victory at Vicksburg on July 4, 1863, which placed the entire Mississippi under Federal control and severing the Confederacy into two parts. To General Grant's successful Vicksburg campaign, bringing America's greatest river back into the hands of the United States.

Nor should the contributions of John Adams, who also died on July 4, 1826, be forgotten on this weekend. So raise a glass to the man who was always first in line to be hanged.
7.1.2005 4:45pm
NOkerlund (mail):
To the democratic revolutions in Ukraine and Lebanon--may they continue as they have begun;

To peace and the rise of democracy and good government in Iraq, Iran, and China;

To freedom for the people of North Korea and Cuba.
7.1.2005 8:28pm
Dell Adams (mail):
To the Justices of the Supreme Court: long may they keep our Constitution short.
7.1.2005 11:34pm
Ardsgaine (mail):
Coincidentally, I have been doing some civil war history reading the past few weeks. It started with The Killer Angels, went on to Longstreet's From Manassas to Appomattox, and now I'm on the second book in Catton's Army of the Potomac series. I've been using Catton's New American Heritage History of the Civil War as a handy-dandy reference for when I want a good picture or map. While flipping through it, I noticed a pic of the original copy of the Gettysburg Address. I pulled out pen and paper, copied it out and gave it to my daughter (9 yrs old) to read, after giving her a little historical background on the battle. She was suitably impressed, and last night she had me read it out for her as if I were giving the speech.

This is the fun part of her education (we're homeschooling), when I can teach her about the nation's heroes and our struggle for freedom. I don't look forward to teaching her about things like Kelo v. New London. She's never going to understand how a people who started out with the right to life, liberty and property ended up here.
7.3.2005 3:15am