Sunday, July 04, 2010

Happy birthday, America!

Having worked on family history for several years and being surprised and delighted that we are descended from SO many colonists, I have a new appreciation for and perspective about our country's anniversary of independence.

Healthcare:  Yes, we are in dire straights in our country, but most of my particular line of Lavells were wiped out by tuberculosis in the early 1800's.  TB!  Seriously, my grandfather four generations removed was one of three survivors in my family (we're talking dozens of deaths just in my family from a preventable disease).  And his father died of lockjaw prior to the TB outbreak!  Heartbreaking.

War:  Our ancestors didn't get to choose whether or not to serve - all the more reason to support our troops today.  Those who survived the Revolutionary War may - or might not - have been rewarded with a land grant.

Thanks to this, my family lines started their way out West, always looking for more space and freedom.  We ran out of space, but at least we still have freedom!

Leadership:  Our first President, George Washington, must have really been something.  It seems like nearly every family in our young country had a "George Washington" or "G.W" in their families in the late 1700's/early 1800's.  I think every single one of my own family lines had a G.W.!  In an age without the technological wonders we have today (as I type on my macbook and listen to my favorite playlist on my ipod shuffle, with my iphone at hand), George Washington stood out as a hero, a leader and a man of deep respect in our country.  My line of Lavell's lived in the Southwark region of Philadelphia from late 1700's to mid 1800's - I wonder if they made the trip to stand with so many others to hear or see Washington speak.  I wonder how they participated in celebrating Independence (my grandfather six times removed served in the Philadelphia militia).

Amazing to think that I sit here, 234 years later, wondering these things in the comfort of my home in the Silicon Valley.  My life would be incomprehensible to these folks, whose life expectancies were short, without plumbing or appliances or technology or LOST or chocolate chip cookie dough ice cream.  I have zero to complain about.  (I might still complain about the lack of air conditioning ....)

On being a woman:  I used to think that the pioneer life would have been way to go.  Then I realized that as a GIRL, I would spend 12 hours a day working my fingers to the bone.  Cooking, baking, cleaning, bearing children, gardening, butchering, preserving, washing, spinning, weaving, sewing, etc. With zero rights.  And would likely die by my 40's.  Oy!  I am so very thankful that women's rights and livelihoods and opportunities have come so far (while knowing that it's not perfect yet).

p.s., The pioneer life still has some romantic appeal.  As long as I can have my macbook with highspeed internet.  :)

Happy Independence Day to all!  Spend a moment thinking of those who made all of this possible for us during your day of BBQ, ice cream, watermelon, family, friends and fireworks.  And have a wonderful and safe day!

Image:  July 4th Fireworks

1 comment:

Fringe said...

I find history so interesting. I love that you have found out so much about your family tree. Simply fascinating! Thank you for sharing, B :)

I agree with you, being a pioneer woman has appeal in the purely romantic sense of the word. The true pioneer women had to work like dogs. They were tough cookies!