• By Lt. Tim McMillan

The Most Incredibly-Encouragingly-AmericanThing You'll Read All Day.


Who doesn't like a birthday?!? Especially, when on this particular day, we celebrate the birth of a nation! Not, just any nation, but the United States of America!!!

A nation founded on the principles of freedom and empowerment for the people. A nation, that when Great Britain tried to impose a direct tax on our tea, Samuel Adams and the Sons of Liberty told England they could shove their tea right up their Boston Harbor; and we don't even like tea all that much nowadays. However, we definitely will drink some Sam Adams beer.

241 years ago today, when England got mad and called the Sons of Liberty, the Sons of Anarchy, we said, "Oh Yeah?!? Hold my Sam Adams, and watch this!" and we founded an entirely new nation, the United States of America! Then we declared that we were willing to fight the Kingdom of Great Britain, for our independence. To the death if need be.

Then 232 years after we signed the Declaration of Independence, we made a television show called, "The Sons of Anarchy"... about a motorcycle gang; because we like motorcycles; and gangs; and television... because that's just what we do! In fact, some of us might take the opportunity today to watch some TV, join a motorcycle gang, and enjoy a Sam Adams Summer Ale... That's right Summer Ale! We have seasonal beer flavors because we have seasons in America.

In fact, a whole ton of different seasons. Do you want some heat? Well great! You can enjoy the summer, with your own 122-degree sauna in Arizona (that's 50 degrees Celsius by the way. Hot right?) Prefer something a little more fridge? Well, that's fine too. Just head on over to Minneapolis/St. Paul, Minnesota and you can chill out with an average winter high of 18-degrees (that's Fahrenheit b-t-dubs) ...

Ok, full disclosure… We haven’t always got it right in America. In fact, we’ve really been the epitome of the rebellious teenager of sovereign nations. We’ve had to go through some growing pains. Ok, a lot of growing pains. Ok, we’re still kind of not exactly reached maturity yet. However, we’re only 241 years old as of today. In established nation years, that’s like 15 or 16-years old. Now, I’ll tell you something we did get right, and we got it right from the very beginning.

“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”

In all seriousness, we nailed it in the preamble to the Declaration of Independence. I mean, we ab-so-lute-ly NAILED IT! Now, at the end of the day, we didn’t exactly demonstrate, in action, that we believed, “All men are created equal.” However, you know what? That doesn’t mean we still can’t demonstrate it. Because, when Thomas Jefferson wrote the preamble to the Declaration of Independence, he knew that all human beings were created equal. He knew that all human beings deserved the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. If he didn’t know it, he wouldn’t have written it. It’s not like we Americans have ever been opposed to writing some really horrible stuff; because we have and will.

So indeed, Thomas Jefferson did know, we all deserve equality, and he wasn't alone in this belief. The five authors and 56 signers of the Declaration of Independence, agreed with him as well.

Now, just so we are clear

Button Gwinnett, who was a representative of my home state of Georgia, at the Second Continental Congress and was a signatory of the United States Declaration of Independence; less than a year after signing to secure America’s freedom, after an argument, challenged Lachlan McIntosh to a duel. At a distance of 12 paces, both men leveled their pistols and fired virtually simultaneously. Gwinnett received a ball to the thigh and McIntosh was hit in the leg… they both shot each other. McIntosh would recover from his leg wound and would serve as a Commander in the Continental Army. However, Button Gwinnett, well he died.

On the bright side, Gwinnett got a pretty nice suburb of Atlanta named after him, in Gwinnett County. Meanwhile, the county that bears McIntosh’s name, is most commonly known as the tract of Interstate 95 in Georgia called, “Well you’re just going to have to hold it because I’m not stopping.”

The point is, just like politicians today, the politicians 241 years ago weren’t altogether that smart. However, even they knew that, “all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”

The truth is, all human beings have a tough time, doing what is right.

However, it doesn’t mean we don’t know what is right. Because we know it now, just like they knew it then. However, we just have a tough time and let our emotions, feelings, or selfish egos get in the way. Basically, EXACTLY what happened when Button Gwinnett signed the most seminal document in American history, and then less than a year later, thought it was a good idea to stand ten feet away from another man, while they each fired pistols at each other.

Basically, we as human beings do dumb stuff.

When it comes to us Americans and the amount of dumb stuff we’ve done… well, how much time you got? “Grab yourself a Sam Adams and get me one too while you’re at it. I’ll share some stories with you… Hell, grab the case. We’re going to be here awhile and we’re probably going to need it to get us through this.”

However, even when we do dumb stuff or we forget those unalienable Rights, that all human beings are endowed, by their Creator; we still actually know what the right thing is. We might hide it. We might have a hard time hearing it. But deep inside we know what is right. In the off chance we just flat out forget what is right, and we make stupid irreversible mistakes, that we cannot fix ourselves, we always seem to get an ironically cruel monument that is meant to serve reminder for our future generations, to never forget what is right.

For example, Button Gwinnett and Lachlan McIntosh are both buried basically 12-paces from each other, in Colonial Park Cemetery in Savannah, Georgia. Ironically, they are also buried 12-paces from the very spot they both shot each other and Gwinnett died. Albeit, it would have to be 12 giant paces, however, I think it could be done, and makes the story better.

Now, all joking aside, they really are buried approximately 50 feet from the very field they dueled and shot each other. Which, also happens to be 12-paces from the current headquarters of the Savannah-Chatham Metro Police Department. Basically, this is all an area I know very well.

Whether we want to admit it, even to ourselves, we indeed all know what is morally right. Now, suppose you figure this out and realize that you have been less than virtuous or forgot that foundational principle that should bind all us Americans; what do you do then? Is it too late? Should you just go ahead and try to stake out a plot next to our good buddy Button Gwinnett? Nope, not at all.

In fact, this is the best part about doing what is ethically right, it’s never too late until it’s too late. Now, we all may have forgotten in over the last two-hundred plus years, however, new beginnings are EXACTLY what America was founded on. The early colonist to America, were an eclectic group of foreigners who made their way here, to have a fresh start in life. To get away from the hardships, mistreatment, or persecution that they found in their native lands. To have an opportunity to be free in life, liberty, and their pursuits of happiness… They for all intents and purposes were refugees.

You know what’s the even better, for the person who wishes to return to that American dream of liberty and freedom for all people? The hard work is already done for you. You don’t have to flee to a new land and start over. You just have to remember that you’re here, and as long as you’re here, opportunity knocks, even in seemingly miraculous ways.

Don’t give me that look… pass me another Sam Adams, and I’ll tell you another quick story about the incredibly American way to randomly succeed.

Remember, our good buddy the surviving dualist, Lachlan McIntosh? Well, it might seem like being the lone survivor of a dual would be a good thing, since you very literally would be the undisputed winner. However, allies of his defeated opponent Gwinnett, took exception to McIntosh killing the man, who challenged him to the duel in the first place. Now, you think the criminal justice system is screwed up now; well imagine being Lachlan McIntosh, who’s leg wound had just healed, yet he couldn’t even get to enjoy a victory lap before he was arrested and suddenly found himself standing trial for the murder of his dueling opponent, Button Gwinnett.

Real quick, can we revisit the whole, you don’t even have to be all that smart to be a politician, and still understand that all people deserve freedom. Because I’ve got to be honest, as if standing there while you and another person fired pistols at each other weren't bad enough, you’re telling me the grand prize you win for surviving is being arrested and potentially hung for murder? Nothing about this seems like a bad idea? Note even a little bit?

Now, in a tip of the hat to our historical judicial system and a knock at our current one, because the courts seemed to agree with me and find this equally as strange. McIntosh was acquitted of the charge of murdering Georgia’s, original gangster, Button Gwinnett.

At this point, McIntosh probably wasn’t even considering ever having an entire county named in his honor someday. He was probably just happy to be free. However, the American bald eagle of inadvertent success was about to come swooping down on him and the most random of ways.

Sensing that Savannah's populous were none-to-pleased and likely to get the kind of justice they wanted one way or another, McIntosh was about to get some help from a stranger, in the form of offering refuge from his enemies. By personal invitation, in October of 1777, Lachlan would find himself in Valley Forge, Pennsylvania, at the request of General George Washington, commander of the Continental Army. It was alongside Washington, during some of the harshest times for the Continental Army, that McIntosh would earn himself a rural Georgia county, honoring his name.

So just like, Commander McIntosh, even if we get shot in the leg, get tried for murder, and then have an entire city wanting us dead, it’s still not over until it’s over. Essentially, it is never too late to have history record your name. The only thing you really have to worry about is trying to make sure history writes your name on the right page. Which isn’t hard at all. It just takes you putting in action, what we’ve all already known, all along.

So today, as you celebrate the birth of the United States, take some time and consider, are you living by the principles the country was supposed to represent from the very beginning of its birth. Even if you not, that’s ok. Because, let’s be honest, 241 years ago they wrote down what was fundamentally righteous, and didn’t exactly live up to the standard they set. However, just like McIntosh, it’s not over until it’s done, and every day is another chance for us to be great. Happy Fourth of July Everyone! I hope you all have an amazing and a Randomly-Incredibly Successful-America of a day.

Tim McMillan is a retired police lieutenant and investigative intelligence analyst; and holds BA's in mathematics and cognitive psychology. Primarily, focusing on the Defense and Intelligence Communities, he now uses his unique background, coupled with a willingness to examine any mystery, to deliver groundbreaking investigative reporting. Tim is a contributor for The War Zone, Vice, and Popular Mechanics

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© Lieutenant Tim McMillan All Rights Reserved by The Raziel Group LLC