Advancing the spirit of independence

July 4, 2016

By Maj. Gen. Don Dunbar, the adjutant general

Fireworks at the 2012 Rhythm and Booms festival in Madison, Wis., silhouette 105-mm Howitzers from the Wisconsin Army National Guard. Wisconsin National Guard file photo

Fireworks at the 2012 Rhythm and Booms festival in Madison, Wis., silhouette 105-mm Howitzers from the Wisconsin Army National Guard.
Wisconsin National Guard file photo

Today we celebrate the 240th anniversary of our nation’s Declaration of Independence from Great Britain.

On July 4, 1776, our nation’s founders shed the shackles of tyranny and boldly declared to the world that the United States of America was and of right, ought to be a free and independent nation.

Since that fateful day when our founding fathers bravely staked their names and reputations to a piece of paper that declared America an independent nation, America has shone as a beacon of hope and freedom to people around the world.

We are still that beacon today, and that spirit of 1776 lives on in the hearts and minds of every American.

But on the 4th of July I can’t help but reflect on who secured that American idea in the first place.

In his Concord Hymn, Ralph Waldo Emerson wrote, “By the rude bridge that arched the flood, their flags to April’s breeze unfurled, here once the embattled farmers stood and fired the shot heard round the world.”

The scene Emerson was describing is that of American minuteman – embattled farmers, blacksmiths, merchants and others representing ordinary Americans from all walks of life – standing in opposition to an advancing British element in Concord, Massachusetts, April 19, 1775, when the first shots of the American Revolution rang out.

Those Citizen Soldiers were Massachusetts militiamen whose legacy lives on today in our National Guard. The colonial militias and their brethren from the Continental Army, which organized in June of 1775, enforced and secured the Declaration of Independence. Without their sacrifices through the blood and suffering of the Revolutionary War, the Declaration on July 4, 1776, would have been nothing more than words on paper.

The farmers that stood at Concord and others like them that joined the fight against Great Britain in the years that followed ensured that the fledgling American nation would survive and fend off the world’s greatest military power at the time.

Today, it is the United States of America that boasts the world’s greatest military might, and that’s in large part thanks to the service and professionalism of the men and women who wear the cloth of our nation’s uniform both in the active component & federal reserve, and in the primary combat reserve of our Army and Air Force – the National Guard.

240 years later, the United States remains the world’s greatest beacon of freedom and hope. We in the Wisconsin National Guard are proud to be a part of it, and we will remain always ready, and always there to ensure the spirit of 1776 lives on for generations to come.

Here’s wishing you and yours a happy and healthy Independence Day. May God continue to bless America.