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Too few know why it's a special day

Today we, once again, will celebrate our independence, the foremost annual event which should be of profound importance to every American for it is a holiday redolent of that which made America great that which bravely announced to all the world that the former English colonies in America were now a nascent republic.

During those first few fledgling years of our nation in the latter 1700s, when our forefathers fought and died for our independence, great men arose from obscurity placing their all; their fortunes, their futures and yes, even their very lives upon the line in an effort to throw off the yoke of servitude unfairly imposed upon them and the then English colonies by their mother nation, Great Britain, whom was guilty of totalism.

A renowned, astute barrister of pragmatic mind, Thomas Jefferson, in response to those compatriots who fearlessly preached rebellion -- namely Samuel Adams and Abraham Clark, two mettlesome revolutionists to name a few -- skillfully penned a marvelous document The Declaration of Independence which was duly signed by a brave few whose names appearing thereupon would've most assuredly proven to be their death warrants had England prevailed in war. Nevertheless, on July 4, 1776, the ingenious document was duly approved by the Continental Congress, America's first governing body, and the corner stone of the would be republic was laid in place.

An esteemed Virginia plantation owner, George Washington, who previously had distinguished himself in battle thus proving himself an adroit military leader during the French and Indian war, was given the improbable task of creating an army from the ground up using proletarians as well as aristocrats and quickly set about welding them into a force capable of defeating a far more numerous and adept enemy greatly experienced in soldiering, highly skillful with the bayonet and superbly trained in military maneuvers especially that of the extremely successful frontal assault. And, to make matters even more dubious, the highly confident and haughty enemy additionally possessed the most modern and formidable navy in all the world.

After many a shameful and humiliating defeat some of which found Americans fleeing for their very lives, especially when confronted in close quarters by British and Hessian regulars armed with fearsome bayonets of which the Americans had none and no experience, General Washington's rag tag army in desperate straits retreated before the powerful British contingent fleeing on foot from New York down through New Jersey and across the Delaware river in the middle of winter.

The British, thinking the Americans a thoroughly humiliated and defeated foe incapable of mounting any sort of attack and finding themselves faced with crossing a large expanse of water in the dead of winter, chose to leave off the final death dealing thrust and go into winter retreat instead.

Experiencing a welcome respite from their pursuing enemy, the American army of revolutionists proceeded to Valley Forge for a much needed rest, to reassemble and lick their wounds.

Finding himself in command of an army in dire predicament whose manifest destiny is readily apparent unless a victory of sorts is immediately forthcoming, Washington launches a miraculous assault upon the fearsome Hessian forces and his rag tag army wins a spectacular victory in the winter of 1776 thereby reversing the trend and laying the groundwork for a glorious ending to British supremacy and occupation on American soil.

Sadly, many Americans are not even aware of that which they celebrate; have no idea as to what American's fought and died for, nor do they understand what independence is all about. Those ancient freedom fighters of bygone days, our patriotic forefathers, were called to bear arms hence enabling the then, American colonies to gain their independence. They were not soldiers but they knew a soldier's duty and they sacrificed to initially light the flaming torch of liberty that brightens all our lives. Freedom was prototypically bought and paid for in blood and the price of our continued freedoms is still the same as it was initially. Americans in every generation are still paying the price. Today, somewhere in a far off land, some few Americans will die in order that others as well as millions yet unborn might experience the priceless joy of liberty.

Valkey Midkiff Tiernan of Albany is a veteran of the Korean and Vietnam wars, served in the Air Force 20 years and retired from Marine Corps Logistics Base-Albany in 1997.