Anyone with even the slightest stirrings of patriotism should be heartened that there are no longer enough hours on July 4 to handle Independence Day.
Still, "July 4th" and "Independence Day" are almost interchangeable - so much so that I've often worried that referring to the celebration of our nation's independence with a generic term deflates the event's importance.
We wouldn't wish our friends "Merry December 25th!" would we?
Rather than a swelling sense of patriotism helping to reinforce the proper name for the holiday, however, our efforts to celebrate the event have grown to such proportions that a single date can no longer contain it.
Locally, that meant the fireworks began out at Raysville Marina yesterday, and the celebration continues Monday at both Little River Marina in Leah and at Fort Gordon. Then, on July 4, Grovetown will hold its annual barbecue, while more fun and fireworks finish the celebration at Patriots Park.
It is fitting that Patriots Park be the site of our county's biggest celebration, because it is Patriots who most should be remembered on this celebration of their revolution.
We all learn about the Patriots and our Founding Fathers in school. Everyone knows George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Ben Franklin, Patrick Henry.
But other than perhaps William Few, best known around here because we named a road after him, do the kids in our schools realize that the Patriots fighting the American Revolution weren't just at Valley Forge and Bunker Hill?
The Revolution was fought here, too - and many believe it ultimately was won here.
The members of the local chapter of the Sons of the American Revolution recently helped localize the revolution by commemorating the 225th anniversary of Augusta's siege of Fort Cornwallis June 2-4.
One of the heroes of that battle was Elijah Clark, but it was hardly his first fight: Two years earlier, Clark helped lead the troops in nearby Wilkes County - which is one of the members now of the Clarks Hill Partnership with Columbia County - in the Battle of Kettle Creek.
That battle, a nearly bungled yet successful surprise attack on encamped British troops far into Georgia's back woods, was an astounding victory for Clark during an otherwise lopsided Loyalist incursion into the South.
The Patriot forces were successful, in part, because of a woman who isn't nearly as well-known as she should be: Nancy Hart.
The only woman for whom a Georgia County is named, Hart is described as an imposing figure: 6 feet tall, redheaded, cross-eyed, with smallpox scars on her face. She was scary. And she didn't like Loyalists.
In addition to tipping off Clark's men about the encamped British at Kettle Creek, Hart perhaps is known best for single-handedly capturing six British soldiers who had the misfortune of coming to her backcountry home and demanding that she feed them.
She fed them, all right; and after getting them drunk on moonshine, she shot and killed one of them and wounded another - with their own guns. With help from other nearby settlers, she then marched the prisoners into the woods and hanged them all.
Finally, of course, locals need to remember my favorite Patriot: David Bushnell, the father of the combat submarine. Bushnell's mostly-unsuccessful wartime exploits took place in the North, but he settled in Columbia County after the war and is believed to be buried in Warrenton, which once was part of Columbia County.
All of this history is just too much to celebrate in one day, and it's too important to remember by just the date. So, this July 4th, remember these local patriots. Thanks to them and many others, we're celebrating Independence Day.
(Barry L. Paschal is publisher of The Columbia County News-Times. E-mail comments to email@example.com.)
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