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Independence Day in Texas

Report from July 4, 2001

by Dr. William Rogers
Co-Director, Doctors for Sensible Gun Laws

Jeannie and I had a most interesting Independence Day this year.

We were invited to attend a cookout at a ranch South of Terrell. There were some 15 adults present and about 25 children ages 6 to 15 years old. The fare was somewhat standard: fried chicken, hot dogs on the grill, potato salad, home made ice cream with fresh fruits, cold beverages (both the brewed and carbonated kind).

After supper, by pre-arrangement with our host and hostess, the crowd gathered round as I tacked a copy of the Declaration of Independence to a Texas Live Oak Tree. I then told the group (with emphasis for the children) the story of the writing of that now ancient document. Then I read the Declaration in its entirety. After that, we asked the crowd to stand quietly while we read the names of the signers. Then all present were asked to charge their glasses --with Coca cola at least-- and I offered a toast (paraphrasing the words of President John Adams in his toast of July 4, 1826):

"To America...and to Independence Forever."

" Independence Forever!" echoed the crowd.

The younger children had drifted a bit. The older ones were spellbound. The adults were quiet and respectful and shed more than one tear during our ceremony.

The ghosts of Bunker Hill and Gettysburg, of San Juan Hill, the Ardennes Forest, Pearl Harbor, Tarawa, Omaha Beach, Chosin Reservoir, Khe San, Lebanon and Iraq all looked on with approval. And the shade of Old Dr. Franklin nodded and said, "...hmmm, perhaps you WILL keep it after all."

As for me, I was grateful just to have been part of it.

I hope your day was a good one too.

Bill Rogers
Tyler, TX