July 5, 2011 - Ralph Cissne
I trust you had an enjoyable Independence Day weekend. Freedom and golf are synonymous for me, manifested by the lightness in my hands and the flow of my swing when mind, body and spirit are aligned. On Saturday I hit 18 greens in regulation, a feat I’ve accomplished before, but this round was particularly satisfying because I finished each swing with confidence and because this day was the 100th anniversary of my father’s birth. I celebrated, quietly, understanding the sacrifices that secure the freedom we all enjoy.
Sunday morning my sister forwarded an email acknowledging the 56 men who pledged their lives, fortunes and sacred honor when they signed the Declaration of Independence. They were men of means who understood the penalty would be death if they were captured. Five were captured, branded as traitors and tortured before they died. Twelve had their homes ransacked and burned. Two lost sons in the Revolutionary Army, another had two sons captured. Nine fought and died from wounds or hardships of the war.
Twenty-four of the signers were lawyers and jurists, eleven were merchants, and nine were farmers and large plantation owners. Carter Braxton of Virginia, a wealthy planter and trader, saw his ships destroyed. He sold his home and properties to pay his debts and died in rags. Thomas McKeam served in the Congress without pay and kept his family in hiding. His possessions were taken and poverty was his reward. Looters claimed the property of Dillery, Hall, Clymer, Walton, Gwinnett, Heyward, Rutledge and Middleton.
Thomas Nelson, Jr., at the battle of Yorktown, noted that British General Cornwallis had taken the Nelson home as his headquarters, but he urged General Washington to open fire. The home was destroyed and Nelson died bankrupt. Francis Lewis had his home and property destroyed. His wife was jailed and died within a few months. Each of the signers made a pledge for independence and self-reliance underscored by Thomas Jefferson’s quote: “A government big enough to give you everything you want, is big enough to take away everything you have.”
Last night, among a crowd of thousands, I watched fireworks gloriously illuminate the Santa Monica Bay. I considered the patriotic reverence of the onlookers as I recalled my father’s funeral decades ago and the resounding silence that follows a 21-gun salute. I acknowledge and celebrate service to country, the cost of freedom and the grand lessons of self-reliance and self-governance we share in the game of golf. Play it down. WOG