Friday, July 4, 2008

Reflections on the Fourth....

"No taxation without representation."
Pah! Some excuse....

National holidays always fit uncomfortably in my mind, mostly because that is the time when to celebrate, nationally, we pull out patriotism as the equivalent of militarism...and I just can't/won't go there.

And, the knowledge of my own family history gives it an extra edge. One part of my family, the Stones --fought bravely in the American Revolution. Another part of my family, the Whitmans (the Wightmans of Rhode Island, Dutch settlers kicked out of Long Island in the 1640s by the English--not to be confused with the Whitmans of MA) actually overcame their historic animosity to the English and fought for the crown. Royalists. My ancestor Wightman, at the end of the war, fled to Nova Scotia and left behind his wife and 13 children. The State of Rhode Island seized the property (several hundred acres) and after a protracted court battle let her keep a widow's portion.... But don't feel too sorry for her; the estate had not been built because Wightman was a farmer--he was, in part, a shaker and mover of the slave trading operations based in Rhode Island.

So, rebels and royalists....which side shall I honor?

An extra edge.... Once, at my Grandmother Hambly's urging (she was a Cheever of MA), I went to a D.A.R. meeting. Dear Grandma so wanted me to join, and I was eligible. I have never been so horrified in my life (--well, a Grange meeting in NW Connecticut once gave me a similar feeling) --I sat through most of the meeting looking for escape routes, and wondering if I did make a bolt for the window, how much it would hurt to crash through the glass on my way out. Instead of a great escape, my soul retracted to somewhere in my throat, stuffing the rising words back down my gullet with the fried chicken and jello they so kindly offered. I was horrified, because there was no color--no recognition of the suffering our nation has caused/created in their patriotic pallet. Just red, white and blue.

I think our Prayers for National Life, found on page 838 of our BCP are a fairly balanced offering to God. Go read them.

And, did you know that many clergy here in Virginia suffered terribly because an oath to the crown was part of their ordination vows...? Many were perceived as Royalists because they could not find it in their hearts to break their ordination vows.... not that they were loyal to the throne at all.

And that our own historic BCP (all of 'em) held no prayers for the nation, no lectionary for the 4th of July until the 1979 version!! --so deep was the trauma.

This past fall we welcomed the Queen to Virginia, showed her the little buildings Jefferson built, showed her where we concocted our plans to throw off the shackles of government by which we were taxed and through which we had no representation.... took her around in a horse drawn carriage that was made of humble local materials. My beloved Joel worried me a bit. He really wanted to go and stand in the crowd, get the Queen's attention and offer her asylum--offer her true freedom from an oppressive government. You know, be free, like us! I mean, he was sincerely interested as she is his first cousin (sixteen times removed). I was afraid he was going to get shot, or arrested--and then maybe he might get taken to Gitmo for all else that would fly ironic from his mouth.

Ah, yes. Guantanamo Bay.... another thing to be proud of on this day.

Heavenly Father, have mercy on us. Amen.

12 comments:

Father David Heron said...

I think it's terrible how you Americans have a National Holiday today celebrating freedom, and we Brits don't. After all, you got it from us!

Grandmère Mimi said...

Wonderful post, Margaret. Thanks for your reference to the prayer in the prayer book. It's a good prayer.

I was eligible to join the DAR, and when we moved here 40 years ago, many of the women in the group urged me to get my genealogy certified, or whatever one must do to get in. I thought it would not be my thing, and indeed, it was not. My revolutionary ancestor was a Stark from Virginia. I can't remember his first name, but the name has remained in the family, mostly as a middle name.

Fr David, don't you have a Magna Carta day? If not, you should. You Brits (and the French) gave us wild ideas about freedom and such.

Padre Mickey said...

No revolutionary ancestors in my family tree; lots of them wandered over across the Bearing land bridge (which may reappear, what with the world climate change and all) and never left. The other bunch were all run out of various European nations for various misbehaviors, and We Don't Talk About Them.

Another great post, Margaret.

FranIAm said...

Happy 4th Margaret!

Can you email me? I am at festinalente07 at gmail dot com.

If you can, thanks!

it's margaret said...

Padre Mickey--No revolutionaries? --well, maybe not just the one we're talking about today.... I'm sure there were others.....

Grandmere --Joel has Stark's in his family too! From Surry (Isle of Wight County) just south of the James River.... Hey! We might be related!

Fran --yes, I will. Right away!

it's margaret said...

Oh --and Fr. David, it is TOTALLY unrighteous and hoggy of us. You are right.... Perhaps we could do something to remedy the situation! But you do have Guy Fawkes Day--yes? And we don't....

Grandmère Mimi said...

Margaret, we are all related. Tell Joel, "Hi cousin", for me.

BooCat said...

My Revolutionary war relatives include Fords (Robert Ford landed at Jamestown), Montgomerys and the DeLaney family, who settled on land in West Tennessee they got from a Revolutionary War land grant. The rebellious streak in our family, however, comes from my Great Grandfather Ford, who left his Northeast Mississippi home to fight for the Union. He then returned home to live among his Confederate neighbors until the day he died. He was tough and had to be to stand his ground for his beliefs as he did, because, unfortunately, "The War" is still being fought in these parts even to this day.

it's margaret said...

Grandmere --I just yelled your greeting at him, it caused us both to laugh. And, yes, we are all related, in so many ways.

it's margaret said...

Boocat --then your people knew Joel's people too! His family got off the boat in Jamestown in 1607. Joel was the first person in his family to have left VA in 400 years--and he married a westerner to boot.... and yes, the "war" is still being fought here too. All other wars have other names, but THE war is alive and well. sigh....

BooCat said...

Tell Joel that I and my gene pool just said, "Hello," to him and his gene pool, if, indeed it is not all part of the same pool. It would seem to me he did okay in his choice of a bride!

johnieb said...

My uncle traced our family to a priest named Wyatt at Jamestown, though I have not verified the research, due to lack of interest. He got there on the relief ships after the starvation Winter, in the Spring of ' 09 or '10, I think it was.

The respectable branch of the family arrived just after the Revolution, but they were no fun, so we don't talk about them.