Friday, July 4, 2008

Happy Birthday America!

Living in Virginia for a large portion of my life I have been privileged to walk in the footsteps of the men and the women who have made our nation great. Virginia is called "Mother of the Presidents," since eight U.S. Presidents have been born here. Four out of the first five Presidents were from Virginia.

David playing the hoop game at Stratford Hall
While many will spend today at a pool or barbecuing with friends we will spend the day with a homemade picnic on the grounds of a President's home. For years we spent the Fourth at Stratford Hall, home of the Lees of Virginia and birthplace of Robert E Lee. They have always had old-time activities and events and a reading of the Declaration of Independence. Richard Henry and Francis Lightfoot Lee were both signers on this important document. Some years they have hayrides and they have always had the hoop and stick game for the kids. David has always been very good at this. They have a wonderful restaurant right on the grounds at the Hall that we usually ate at.

We always followed our visit to Stratford Hall with a visit to Westmoreland Berry Farm to pick berries, buy fresh fruit, and listen to a live blue grass band. The pick-your-own-berries worked really great for us since you didn't pay for any you ate in the field. David has been known to down a bucket of blueberries faster then we could pick it.

The changing of the guard at
the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier
The architecture of Virginia is so beautiful. Our founding father's attention to detail and desire to create beauty is evident in the homes they designed and built. I am very thankful that the idea that as Christians we need to eschew beauty in order to show our holiness was not prevalent in their day. I believe their view is the more Biblical view. Didn't God give the Israelites very precise instructions in how to build the tabernacle? He also demanded the best materials and most skilled workmen available to create his dwelling place.

Arlington House, home of Robert E Lee, stands over Arlington Cemetery and the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. The changing of the guards at the tomb is a sight that shouldn't be missed when visiting the DC area. The rows and rows of stones marking a lives given in service to our country shows the sacrifice needed to keep our nation free. I have a great-uncle that was buried there shortly after David was born.

Arlington House
The Fourth of July before 9/11 we watched the fireworks on Quantico Marine Corp base. Just a few months later we would watch some of the same men and women who oohed and awed with us over the fireworks drive into DC in tanks to secure our Pentagon and maintain order in a world gone crazy. It is with great cost our freedom was won and with great cost we must maintain this freedom.


Mrs.RGS said...

I love Revolutionary War history and my hubs loves Civil War history. Neither of us have ever lived or even visited the east coast (or the right coast :) ) until our daughter got her master's degree in D.C. I visited with her for a week during her first summer there and we drove down through Virginia. I almost had to pull over off the highway at one point because the names of the towns on the highway signs had such an impact on me. It just never occurred to me before that these historical places had contemporary people living in them today. Just seeing that these places actually exist was thrilling but wrapping my brain around the fact that people there had Internet and cable TV just like anywhere else -- well that took some adjustment for me. Part of my brain was laughing, saying, what did you expect, silly goose. But, the other part was having a real melt-down.
The next year, when she graduated, Ray and I went back and spent some quality time in the historical areas. It was really meaningful for both of us.
I'm glad to hear that you appreciate living so close to where so many men and women had to make hard decisions about what was worth risking their lives.
Whatever gems of information about your area that you can share will be deeply appreciated -- by me anyway.

Kim said...

I think I will be posting little by little in the future about Virginia's history.
One of the reasons I thought of it was your post showing the "older" houses in your area. It made me laugh since we have Jamestown here.