By Amy Brucker
I just got back from a two week adventure in Colorado during which 135 of my closest relatives gathered from every corner of the continent to attend a family reunion.
After our Friday night dinner, I gave a presentation about our genealogy and how ourancestors were instrumental in the shaping of American Independence, and how that freedom came with a price.
Filled with hope and a vision, my ancestors came to the New World looking for freedom, but what they found was a hard road paved with loss and devastation. As Independence Day approaches, their stories are a relevant reminder of the cost of freedom.
The Cost of Freedom
During my presentation, I shared that our ancestors came over on the Mayflower in 1620, and how Susana White, our many-times-great-grandmother, was one of only four women who lived through the first winter, thanks to the Wampanoag who helped them survive.
I talked about how our ancestors were the subject of the Eames Family Massacre in Framingham, MA in 1676 during the King Philip’s War. How my many-times-great-grandmother, Mary Padelford Eames, and five of her children were massacred by Nipmuc Indians, and how we are the direct descendants of the only child who survived and had children.
I shared how our many-times-great-grandfather, Jacob Barney, lived next to the physician who examined the accused during the witch trials of 1692, and how the Barney family donated two acres of land to the Village of Salem to be used as a school, and then mysteriously moved far away, just as as the trials were beginning in April.
I then shared how our ancestors fought in the Revolutionary War, the War of 1812, and the Civil War, and how my great-great-grandfather was part of the Eighth Cavalry who was instrumental in capturing and slaying Sitting Bull, a Holy Man whose greatest desire was to ensure the health and wellbeing of his clan.
My family was instrumental in shaping the “Independence of America”, but it’s a freedom that comes with a price.
There are many sides to every story and the shaping of America is no different.
Wampanoag and Nipmuc Indians wanted to live in harmony with the land, keep their traditions alive, and honor their agreements with the colonists.
Pilgrims wanted a safe place to practice their religion, raise families in accordance with their beliefs, and cultivate a place of belonging that was independent of political influence.
When these two worlds collided it resulted in tenuous friendships followed by bloody battles and devastating losses on both sides.
As Americans everywhere celebrate Independence Day this Fourth of July, remember that our freedom comes with a price. Every story has many sides, and the opposition isn’t really the enemy, but a person or people who are trying to assure their safety, belonging, and worth as a human, and sometimes their quest night seem at odds with your own.
Knowing Where You Come From Shapes Your Perception
We can’t change our past, but we can change how we perceive people whose values and outlook on life are different than ours. We all want safety, belonging, and to feel worthy. These are basic human needs.
True freedom comes from understanding that the power of our purpose, the reasons why we are here, do not have to impede on the freedom of others, and that there is always a way for all people to thrive.
The challenge is that the answer may not be obvious. We may have to examine our past in order to understand why we see the world the way we do, and then remember that there is always more than one perspective, each of which can be true.
As we move forward with our independence, with freedoms others may seek to deny, we need to look for soulutions we haven’t seen before. What answers are standing right before us? What haven’t we seen?