July 4th: In General & In Telluride & Mountain Village

July 4th: In General & In Telluride & Mountain Village

The original resolution calling for the Continental Congress to declare the United States free from British rule was introduced by Richard Henry Lee of Virginia on June 7, 1776. Three days later, a committee headed by Thomas Jefferson was appointed to prepare a document appropriate to the cause.


The Fourth of July, a brief history & remembering the signers – because freedom is never free.

The Declaration of Independence was adopted by Congress on July 4, although the resolution that led to its writing had been approved two days earlier, prompting President James Adams to say:

“The second day of July 1776 will be the most memorable epoch in the history of America. 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, fun, bells, bonfires and illumination from one end of this continent to the other from this time forward forever more.” (From “John Adams” by David McCullough.)

Apart from slipping two days on the calendar to July 4, a ho-hum day back in Adams’ time, his vision became tradition: the Fourth of July became a big birthday party our nation throws for itself.


But have you ever wondered what happened to the 56 men who signed that document that set the stage? The following rundown is from snopes.com.

Five signers were captured by the British as traitors and tortured before they died.

Twelve had their homes ransacked and burned.

Two lost their sons serving in the Revolutionary Army, another had two sons captured.

Nine of the 56 fought and died from wounds or hardships of the Revolutionary War.

They signed and they pledged their lives, their fortunes, and their sacred honor.

What kind of men were they?

Twenty-four were lawyers and jurists. Eleven were merchants, nine were farmers and large plantation owners; men of means, well educated. But they signed the Declaration of Independence knowing full well that the penalty would be death if they were captured.

Carter Braxton of Virginia, a wealthy planter and trader, saw his ships swept from the seas by the British Navy. He sold his home and properties to pay his debts, and died in rags.

Thomas McKeam was so hounded by the British that he was forced to move his family almost constantly. He served in the Congress without pay, and his family was kept in hiding. His possessions were taken from him, and poverty was his reward.

Vandals or soldiers looted the properties of Dillery, Hall, Clymer, Walton, Gwinnett, Heyward, Ruttledge, and Middleton.

At the battle of Yorktown, Thomas Nelson, Jr., noted that the British General Cornwallis had taken over the Nelson home for his headquarters. He quietly urged General George Washington to open fire. The home was destroyed, and Nelson died bankrupt.

Francis Lewis had his home and properties destroyed. The enemy jailed his wife, and she died within a few months.

John Hart was driven from his wife’s bedside as she was dying. Their 13 children fled for their lives. His fields and his gristmill were laid to waste. For more than a year, he lived in forests and caves, returning home to find his wife dead and his children vanished. A few weeks later, he died from exhaustion and a broken heart.

Norris and Livingston suffered similar fates.

Such were the stories and sacrifices of the American Revolution. These were not wild-eyed, rabble-rousing ruffians. They were soft-spoken men of means and education. They had security, but they valued liberty more.

Standing talk straight, and unwavering, they pledged: “For the support of this declaration, with firm reliance on the protection of the divine providence, we mutually pledge to each other, our lives, our fortunes, and our sacred honor.”

They gave you and me a free and independent America. The history books never told you a lot about what happened in the Revolutionary War. We didn’t fight just the British. We were British subjects at that time and we fought our own government! …

Continue reading here.


Are we raining on your (July 4th) parade?

If yes, it is only because too often we take our liberties for granted.

Instead we might want to take a few minutes while enjoying the Fourth to silently thank not only the soldiers marching down Main Street, men and women who are our neighbors, but also the signers, those patriots who sacrificed so much so future Americans could live as we do: in freedom.

Which underlines the fact freedom is never free.

The Fourth of July in Telluride & Mountain Village:

In Telluride the tradition, which began in the 1880s, had gotten out of control some time in the early 1970s. Town cancelled the Fourth of July party until further notice. When the holiday was reinstated on the summer calendar a year or two later, the main event was a bbq and fireworks sponsored by the Fire Department.


(Read, no parade.)


In late-1980s, thanks to the efforts of Joyce Allred and Shari Flatt, the parade returned to its past glory. Now almost everyone in town participates. 

“If it weren’t for the tourists, there may be no spectators at all,”  Joyce said.

On the Fourth of July, people tend to put red state/blue state issues aside and, per F. Scott Fitzgerald, “stand at moral attention,” saluting the Stars and Stripes as one nation. On that day, we honor the young men and women who put on uniforms, boarded trains and planes and promised their families they would return, knowing full well they might not be back at all.

Telluride’s spin on the Fourth includes the parade straight out of Norman Rockwell, a flyover, Men Without Rhythm, kids, dogs, horses, floats, wagons, bikes, bbq, men and women in uniform and the crowd of cheerleaders. The Sheridan Arts Foundation hosts Telluride Plein Air; the Formbys host Telluride Hot Shot, a photo contest commemorating the day;there are also happenings in Mountain Village, where the Red, White & Blues Celebration on July 3, 1 – 6 p.m., includes kids activities: ice cream social, inflatables, magic, plus music with Eric Lindell and The Hillstompers.

Thanks to the Telluride Fire Department, spectacular fireworks punctuate the celebration.

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