ST. GEORGE — The Fourth of July has a special meaning for St. George resident Valerie King.
In a place that puts a great value on genealogy, King can directly tie herself in to the American Revolution that spawned the nation and is celebrated this weekend.
It was in 2014 that King found out her link to 1776. And at that moment, there were fireworks.
“I was so excited when I found out. I yelled, ‘Yes!’” King is able to trace herself back to six patriots who fought for a new nation against the British.
They were Pennsylvania farmers who immigrated to the American Colonies in the 1750s. They had plowed fields but traded that to the cause of plowing liberty in a Revolutionary War that began in April 1775. They charged into battles known by their locations: Germantown, Brandywine and Yorktown.
“I trace back to people who dropped their shovels and picked up their hunting rifles,” King said.
That new nation declared its independence the next July and it is that declaration that is being celebrated with barbeques, a big concert at Greater Zion Stadium Saturday night in St. George and fireworks – albeit in designated areas because of drought and fire fears.
King has been making a local impact as the regent for the Daughters of the American Revolution’s Color County Chapter, consisting of 90 members who can trace back to 160 different patriots in the American Revolution.
For them, the meaning of the Fourth of July is a year-round endeavor.
“We have a kindred connection to the people who put their lives on the line for three concepts: freedom, liberty and independence.”
At the time, Great Britain was an empire and America was just a group of dependent colonies. While the success of the nation might give the impression that the move to break off from Britain was an easy one, King said the scope of the forefathers of the revolution was immense.
“When you think about it, that was such a bold and giant step. They put themselves on the line against the biggest most formidable army at the time,” King said. “It’s very meaningful and impactful to us who have ancestors.”
The current nation’s divisions have been highlighted of late, with debates where sides may be unwilling to find common ground.
But while the country’s forefathers produced a United States of America, it doesn’t mean they got along. John Adams didn’t like Thomas Jefferson, and Aaron Burr killed Alexander Hamilton.
But King notes what the forefathers did can be a lesson to unite when they had to in defense of a common cause.
“They couldn’t have won that war if they weren’t united. Believe me they had their debates in battle but in the end they had a common goal and focus and they were successful,” King said, adding:
“Once they won the war, they went back to debating. Look at Adams and Jefferson.”
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