Thursday, March 12, 2009

Become a Friend of 1776

If you are reading this blog, maybe you are a friend of 1776 already. If not, hopefully you’ll rapidly become one.

I look forward to this.

Who is your blogger, and why?

My name is Renata Breisacher Mulry. Born in Berlin, Germany, educated in Harrow, a suburb of London, and the United States. Have a M. S. in Library Science.

Worked in Washington, D.C., including the Library of Congress and the U.S. Air Force. Later at Johns Hopkins University, Applied Physics Laboratory, as an editor for the aerospace industry.

Why did I become interested in the American Revolutionary War? In England, my exposure to American history was quite limited.

My parents had lived by Lake Champlain for a number of years, so names such as Ticonderoga were familiar to me. The proximity of Canada enabled my parents to easily drive to the Montreal area to buy good French bread!

All during World War II, my twin brother and I were separated from our parents. They lived in the United States; we, in England. Finally, in 1946, we were all reunited.

In 1996, I happily celebrated my 50th anniversary in the United States. I never found a Hallmark card for this occasion. But I did celebrate in Washington, D.C., a very appropriate location.

What could I do to make this milestone really meaningful and lasting? The idea of studying American history in the 1776 period seemed an ideal choice.

My study was slow going; my background was sketchy and I had no family roots in the U.S. What would I study? The Revolutionary War period was complex, quite extraordinary, with many famous people and battles. Fortunately, the published body of information is enormous for this period. Completely overwhelming at times. The interest in the subject matter is continuous.

I can now state that for me, the ten to fifteen years around 1776 are the most spectacular period in our history. Of course, other decades such as the Civil War and World War II caused great impact and change, but even these cannot match the momentous importance and defining character of 1776.

Do you agree?

A few important men got together during the long, hot summer in Philadelphia, called King George a colossal twit, every name in the book, a dangerous tyrant. These few men, with Hancock as convention president and Adams as its prominent proponent, declared the colonies free from English domination, independent to pursue their own destiny.

Forget the reality that England had won the long French and Indian war, leaving the victors with an enormous financial deficit. The colonies had prospered considerably from this war, so why shouldn’t they bear some of the cost?

But the Philadelphians (that’s how I identify them) in July 1776 wanted no part of that. Instead, the colonies took on the greatest power on earth, started a long, often disastrous war with hardly an army, no money, plenty of dissenting loyalists, and not much ammunition.

But America did win this war. They passed the Articles of Confederation, wrote and ratified a constitution, established the foundation of a national treasury, and selected a unique leader to be its first national president.

How pertinent is 1776 today? Enormously.

I hear “America has lost its way” and “we should start over”. Start over to what? We have our start.

The men gathered in July 1776 were extraordinary. What they achieved strips away all the hypocrisy and politics at its worst, which many perceive today in Washington. Those Philadelphians got it right.

1776 gets us back to basics. –Renata Breisacher Mulry

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