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Mount Creative Writers

56 Stories, one imagination

Alexandra Tyminski
MSM Class of 2015

(7/2014) Every year since I was about six or seven, I would go to Old Navy to buy my father a white or navy blue shirt with the United States flag on it. In bold words were highlighted, Happy Fourth of July.

Growing up, history was never my favorite subject. I liked writing and reading. Art was fun sometimes, but I was most happy as long as I wasnít doing science, math, or history. When high school approached, I began to find more history classes engaging. I started to see that maybe history was important to study. Years down the road at Mount St. Maryís University, I have found through knowledgeable and interesting professors that history can be thought provoking. It can be something more lively if we just use our imagination. It provides us with more than just a timeline of what happened months, years, or centuries ago. It takes us back into a time where people, places, and events were once so vivid.

Learning about the past decades gives us a foundation in understanding our history, our American history. On July 4, 1776, the Continental Congress finalized and approved all of the edits on the Declaration of Independence. Thatís fantastic. What does this mean for you and me today?

Many people might say that this means we are all officially permitted and free to have a nice festive party on the Fourth of July. Everyone attending has to wear red, white, and blue. There is going to be some type of music going on, and a cookout is definitely going to occur. There will be laughter, conversation, and a fun game of frisbee. At the end of the night, everyone will gather together or travel somewhere close to enjoy colorful fireworks that paint the night sky. When everyone parts ways, they will rest their head on the pillow with a full belly and fall asleep with a big grin on their faces.

This scene is one that is most commonly found every year on the Fourth of July. In fact, I have found myself a part of that scene most of my life. Now, Iím by no means saying that this isnít a great way to celebrate the day. However, it might be even more thought provoking to take this Fourth of July and think about what some of the 56 men who signed our Declaration of Independence would be doing to celebrate this day in 2014.

Would William Floyd of New York be teaching college kids around the nation about the true importance of the Declaration of Independence? Would the once major general and former Senator of New York in 1803 be speaking to farmers about his shared passion for farming? Would he speak to them about their importance in society and America as a whole?

Would Arthur Middleton, representative of South Carolina and a part of politics until his death, be engaging politicians? Would he be speaking to them about his views on American politics?

I picture that maybe Charles Carroll of Maryland would be telling stories to young adults or kids about the reasons why living in America is such a blessing. I imagine he would travel to all parts of Maryland on one day to explain how he helped frame part of the constitution for Maryland. If we are lucky and donít run out of time, he might even tell you or me how he was also elected to the Maryland State Senate in 1781. Charles would also be a funny guy. He would say that he made the longest impact and joke with us about how he was the last member of the signers of the Declaration to die at the age of 95 in 1832.

"Wasnít I the most helpful?" Charles would say with a lingering laugh.

How about someone that might ring even more of a bell? How about Thomas Jefferson of Virginia? Because of his fluency in 5 different languages, I can only picture him welcoming people to America. He might stress the importance of education since he was an intelligent man. He wouldnít just talk about his presidency or what he did, but he would make it known that people remembered he wrote our Declaration of Independence. I think that the Declaration of Independence and our author would receive a Best Sellerís award. Would Thomas Jefferson also tell us one thing many us may not have realized? Would he remind us that he also died on July 4, 1826? Ironic?

I have only discussed four men that signed our Declaration of Independence. Although, there are 52 other men with personal stories about who they were and what they accomplished. I wonít be able to write about them all, but I can say that each man accomplished more than one thing that is deemed great. However, I wonder if being one of the 56 men to sign the Declaration was there greatest accomplishment? Was this the highlight of their existence? Through writing this article, Iíve been challenged a little bit further. To think not just about when these men signed our Declaration, but why?

This question may seem too broad, and we may not ever know because they arenít here to answer. But, I believe that the most rewarding celebration on our Fourth of July is to simply recognize and know that those 56 men had a vision of what freedom meant to each of them. Sure, they all desired freedom. But, they saw with their own visions, a country that would be free in all ways. Those 56 men had a vision for us, and I think that our celebration is to not just to have fireworks, but to carry on their vision.

What is this vision? Again, Iím only a creative writer, and Iím not a politician, a lawmaker, or a signer of the Declaration of Independence. But, I think that this vision lines up with any Americanís values. This vision consists of a road of freedom for our nation. On this road, there are economics, politics, press, religion, culture, and opportunities. These 56 men envisioned a free nation where all of these parts of our country would be free to choose for ourselves. Our rights and our freedom are to be celebrated on the Fourth of July, but so is the vision that our past leaders once had.

Every year we celebrate the Fourth of July, but if we are a country of vision, then maybe we should celebrate every day. There doesnít have to be fireworks every night or an array of red, white, and blue. In the quiet of our hearts, we can thank those 56 men for their vision. We can imagine their smiles every time we thank them. We can picture them asking us what our current visions are for America.

My vision for America is to remain free, and to be a country that sets an example. I am only one individual, but I can make decisions that help contribute to that vision. I can be an example to my fellow Americans in my daily life about what it means to carry on the visions of the 56. As I get older and into my adult years, I realize that my opportunities in this amazing and free nation are abundant. Iím seeing that my freedom is my joy, and my joy is being free.

If I ever got a chance to meet each of those 56 men, I think that Iíd ask them all one question, what did your freedom mean to you? Thus, I ask you all, what does your freedom mean to you?

A vision of a free nation is a big vision, but Iím sure if those 56 men were celebrating with us in 2014, they would be happy to see the fruits of it. If we just use our imagination a little bit more, we might be able to see just what those men would be doing to celebrate our nationís freedom. I promise you that our imaginations carry us far when we imagine those from history. So, let us begin our celebration today, remembering those 56, and carrying on their visions of freedom. As we do before every game, let us end this article and begin celebrating with this line from the Star Spangled Banner, "Oh, say does that Star - Spangled Banner yet wave. O'er the land of the free and the home of the brave.

Read other articles by Alexandra Tyminski