Monday, July 4, 2011

Happy Independence Day!

My apologies for not posting recently - our life is extremely busy right now :)

Our good friend Kendall Wingrove has written a great article about John Adams
and his role in our nation's founding, and I thought I would share it with you:

Adams: An Independent Thinker Who Continues To Teach Us

Historian David McCullough gave America a wonderful gift 10 years ago and it's worth remembering as we celebrate the nation's 235th birthday. His popular biography of John Adams chronicles the remarkable life and times of a great patriot.

The splendid volume explores the inner thoughts of a complicated man whom McCullough describes as "both a devout Christian and an independent thinker."

Adams, the son of a church deacon, was painfully aware of his shortcomings. He could be vain, cranky, impetuous, self-absorbed and fiercely stubborn.

But our second president also was hard-working, frugal and honest. A brilliant scholar, Adams was attracted to mathematics and astronomy. He marveled at natural wonders, including the stars in the sky, and considered them to be the gifts of God. The greatest of all, Adams wrote, was the gift of an inquiring mind.

Adams' inquiring mind was an important force as the colonies struggled to free themselves from British rule. Thomas Jefferson described Adams as "a colossus" of the Continental Congress who spoke "with a power of thought and expression that moved us from our seats."

He also was a shrewd judge of men and their talents, helping secure assignments for two important Virginians. Adams was instrumental in selecting Jefferson to write the Declaration of Independence and choosing George Washington to command the colonial army.

Even though he was not a soldier, Adams displayed physical and moral courage on many occasions during his long career. He rode hundreds of miles on horseback in punishing winter weather to attend the Continental Congress. As a diplomat, he endured a harrowing 3,000-mile journey on the North Atlantic in its most treacherous season.

Before the Revolution began, Adams successfully defended British soldiers charged in the Boston Massacre of 1770, despite public scorn.

And while overseas he spent years apart from his "Dearest Friend," Abigail Adams, a dedicated wife who was exceptional in her own right.

Why did Adams take such risks and make such sacrifices? He was convinced that the hand of God was involved in the birth of the new nation.

Adams thought it was the will of heaven "that the two countries should be sundered forever" and correctly predicted that the conflict would drag on for many years.

He trusted in God's wisdom and benevolence. And Adams understood the frailties of mankind and the power of the Almighty. He wrote: "Statesmen...may plan and speculate for liberty, but it is religion and morality alone, which can establish the principles upon which freedom can securely stand."

Adams cherished freedom and pondered how the landmark events of July 1776 would be remembered in the future. He wrote: "I am apt to believe that it will be celebrated by succeeding generations as the great anniversary festival. It ought to be commemorated as the Day of Deliverance by solemn acts of devotion to God Almighty. It ought to be solemnized with pomp and parade, with shows, games, sports, guns, bells, bonfires and illuminations from one end of this continent to the other from this time forward and forever more."

His prediction was mostly correct. We've continued the parades and the games, but we've forgotten the heavenly author of our emancipation. While fireworks illuminate the modern sky, the bright faith of the Founding Fathers has grown dim in our hearts.

A flicker of hope remains. Adams was once asked if he thought America would succeed in the struggle for independence.

"Yes," Adams replied, "if we fear God and repent our sins."

The same is true today.

All men are created equal. Like John Adams, each of us can rise above our shortcomings. By using an inquiring mind, we can seek divine guidance and, as Adams recognized, win a freedom that lasts forever.

Kendall Wingrove is a free-lance writer from East Lansing, Michigan.

Hope you had a great Independence Day!

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