As I celebrated Independence Day with my family yesterday, an interesting thought struck me...
Why don't we celebrate September 3 as our Independence Day?
After all, that was the day that the Treaty of Paris was signed, formally ending the War for Independence. That was the day we won the battle for independence. So why not celebrate September the Third? The answer reveals an important aspect of what it means to be an American.
Instead, we celebrate July 4 — a day in which leaders gathered with little or no assurance of victory to make a solemn declaration. In essence, with that Declaration, those men issued a "no turning back" statement that they were in this fight to the very end. But let's be clear. On July 4, nothing was won. In fact, in the months that followed, the new nation's forces were soundly defeated in three key battles in and around New York. George Washington and his troops lost the Battle of Long Island and were pushed out of New York City. Hundreds of buildings were burned to the ground. Up the Hudson River a short time later, they lost the Battle of White Plains. Later that fall, Washington and his men suffered an even worse defeat at the Battle of Fort Washington. As a result, Washington retreated south to just across Delaware River. As a frigid winter began to set in, Washington faced desertion from his troops, the collapse of his army and perhaps a quick end to the war.
So just six months after signing that Declaration, the young American nation was pushed to the brink of defeat. So, again, why do we celebrate July 4th and not September 3rd?
The reason is very significant and very important...
Although July 4th wasn't the day we won our independence, it was the day we decided to win our independence!
And that makes all the difference, doesn't it? It's not really the day you win something that is the most significant. It's the day you decide to win that really matters.
By signing that Declaration, those men literally put their lives on the line. They decided to win. No turning back. That's why July 4 carries more weight than September 3.
And it carries lessons for us today. I can't speak for you, but I'm facing some "battles." Although the stakes are not quite as high as those faced by Adams and Washington and company, they are high to me. So today, I'm deciding to win...
I'm deciding to win for my family. I'm going to continue to stand with my wife as the lead advocates for our family, knowing that what we do today will impact generations of Elliotts to come.
I'm deciding to win for our nation. I'm doubling down on my commitment to "helping America thrive" through our enhanced vision here at Grassfire. We finished our first e-course on the topic, called Thriving 101. I'm not sure it will change the world, but we're sowing seeds into the ground and believing God for a harvest... that we can play some role in a rebirth of our nation as we reconnect with our core values.
I'm deciding to win on a host of key issues. We're re-thinking how we approach these battles. Next week, we'll take a fresh approach as the fight over President Trump's Supreme Court nominee begins. I think you'll like it. We are developing a response to the immigration issue that puts it all in a different perspective.
As I look around, quite frankly the situation looks tough here at Grassfire. Things are tight. Very tight! Most concerning of all, the grassroots "troops" are not nearly as engaged in the issues as they were in the past.
Washington and Jefferson and Adams and all those who boldly signed that Declaration had it much worse. As December wore on, the weather only worsened. Bitter cold set in. Christmas neared and the men were cold, hungry and terribly homesick. They had gone months without a military victory. For many, their voluntary commission was set to expire in days or weeks. Washington was about to lose his army.
What happened next changed the course of the war. Washington decided to mount a Christmas night surprise attack on the British forces at Trenton under the charge, "Victory Or Death!" To do so, they would have to cross the Delaware River under darkness. Early in the morning on December 26, the American troops began their crossing. At about that time, a massive storm blew in, making the crossing nearly impossible. Just one of three planned crossings were successful, but the storm served to hide the troops. A massive victory resulted. And the rest is history.
For Washington, there was no turning back. Why? Because of July 4th, the day he decided to win.
Thanks for listening!