4th of July

Published on Wed, 07/02/2014 - 3:28pm

“—And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of Divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes, and our sacred Honor.”

~Closing Lines of the Declaration of Independence, 1776

It’s Independence Day!
I can’t listen to our National Anthem or other patriotic songs without getting a little choked up and teary-eyed.  Men and women struggled against the tyranny of the King of England for many years before they realized that the only way to build America was to sever ties with England and create a new country.  To declare independence from England was an act of absolute bravery because the King of Great Britain saw this as an attempt to overthrow the government.

The penalty for that was death.
Fifty-six courageous men signed their names to the Declaration of Independence. The first to sign was John Hancock who signed in the largest script. He was the President of the Continental Congress at the time.  For those of you who wonder about the phrase, “I need your John Hancock,” you now know its source.  The more famous signers of the Declaration of Independence include future presidents John Adams and Thomas Jefferson as well as famous statesman Benjamin Franklin.

The Revolutionary War began the revolt of the colonists against Great Britain.  Its roots came during the French and Indian War (otherwise known as the Seven Years’ War) taking place between 1756 and 1763, a full 14 years before the signing of the Declaration of Independence. This war involved Austria, England, France, Great Britain, Prussia, and Sweden.  In Europe, the conflict created allies to battle the rising power of the King of Prussia.  On American soil, France and Great Britain battled for control of North America. England won, but at a crippling cost.  As a result, the British Parliament began taxing the colonies heavily to rebuild their coffers.
American colonists resented this taxation without representation.

How You Can Celebrate Independence Day on Your Acreage

Here are a few ideas to help you and your families celebrate the birth of this great nation. I’m sure you have already put out your red, white, and blue flag.  If there is a parade, try to make sure that at least some members of the family attend to celebrate the birth of the nation as well as those who have served or continue to serve in our Armed Forces.  After the parade it’s time to gather with family and friends for a barbeque and fireworks as the standard celebration.
Here are a few more activities to make the day special:
Read the Declaration of Independence:  A number of people have started this as a tradition to help keep history alive for themselves and the younger generations.  A copy of the Declaration of Independence is easily found online at: http://www.ushistory.org/declaration/document/index.htm

Badminton or Volleyball:  Volleyball is an excellent game because all you need is a net and a ball, and plenty of people can get involved.  Badminton requires a net, racquets, and shuttles and is an excellent way to get even Aunt Myrna involved in some gentle physical activity.

Horseshoes:  For those who have plenty of room, this is a perfect game to set up and the rules that follow can be modified as needed to accommodate all ages and abilities as you see fit. It is also a perfect game for the BBQ master who might have one hand permanently fixed around a bottle of his favorite beverage.  Here are the “official” rules of Horseshoes…ok; actually, they’re merely a suggestion.  The National Horseshoe Pitchers Association has a complete set of tournament rules, but you won’t need them for a friendly game on your acreage.
Posts set 40 (or so) feet apart.
Posts should NOT be perfectly vertical! They should lean inward toward the opposite post about 10 – 15 degrees from vertical.
Fill the area surrounding the posts with sand to keep the horseshoes from bouncing all over the place. A backboard can be erected to prevent too many overthrows or bounces.
A Foul Line is set about 3 feet in front of your post.  You aren’t supposed to step over this line, but again, relaxed rules for a friendly game will accommodate 7-year-old Junior as well as 77-year-old Grandpa.
Games can be played as singles or doubles.  Choose who plays first then let the game begin.
Each player will throw two horseshoes, one at a time toward the opposite post.  The idea is to circle the post, which will give you 3 points.  Any shoe within 6 inches of the post (or 1 horseshoe width) counts for 1 point.  Some people give “leaners” 3 points; others give it only 1 point.  Agree on this at the start of the game. Leaners don’t circle the post; they just lean up against it.
Play up to 21. Some people play straight 3-point ringers, 1-point within range (i.e. within 6 inches or one horseshoe width from the post). Anything further than six inches from the post does not count toward scoring.
 Otherwise, scoring can get complicated.  Whoever gets a ringer on a turn is in a sweeter scoring position.
 The twist in horseshoes comes when each side has a ringer (a ringer occurs when you can draw a straight line between the ends of the horseshoe and the line does not touch the post it encircles), they cancel each other out and no one gets any points.  The same is true when the shoe of each opponent lies the same distance from the post.
If you get two ringers and your opponent gets no ringers, you get six points.
Ringers and closest horseshoes are calculated separately, if you get a ringer and your opponent does not, you get 3 points. The next horseshow you throw is compared to your opponent’s closest horseshoe.  The closest one gets 1 point. (In most cases, leaners get priority over one that is merely touching a post).
Take turns throwing. Player One throws both horseshoes. Then Player Two throws both horseshoes.  Score this round and continue up to 21.

Bocce Ball:  Often described as a form of outdoor bowling, playing Open Bocce is a fabulous outdoor sport, especially when there is plenty of room to roll the balls. This game was invented thousands of years ago by the Italians. Bocce ball can be played on a lawn, sand, or open dirt, or even on a paved surface. Each surface changes the elements and challenges of the game.  You need 10 – 13 feet in width by 50 – 80 feet in length.
Bocce is played with a small ball called a pallino and eight larger balls.  Two teams of even-numbered people, (two, four, or eight) divide the large Bocce balls, each team getting four balls. Some Bocce ball sets have distinctive designs and colors so that each player can easily distinguish their ball from all other players.  
A word of warning, the word “throw” is used in this description, but a “throw” is more of an underhanded tossing/rolling of the bocce ball.  No one wants injuries on the 4th of July!
Flip a coin to see who throws out the little pallino ball.  
Standing at one far end of the “alley” created by the perimeter, the player who won the toss throws the pallino out onto the playing field past the middle line of the field. If the field is 50 feet long, it must go at least 25 feet. If the field is 80 feet, it must be thrown 40 feet. The same player then throws his/her first bocce ball.   
Two styles of throws are used, either a rolling (like bowling) move is used to actually hit and move the pallino ball further downfield. The underhanded toss is used to try to get the bocce ball as close to the pallino as possible.
The idea of the game is to get your bocce ball closest to the pallino ball.
The closest player is considered “inside” because his ball is now closest to the pallino (because no one else has thrown a ball yet). All other players are considered “outside”. The “inside” player forfeits his/her turn throwing bocce balls. All “outside” players take turns throwing their balls until one of them gets closer to the pallino than the original “inside” player.
There are two teams, and each team takes turns tossing the ball toward the pallino.
After all balls have been thrown, the “inside” player is awarded the points.  The first point is awarded for being closest to the pallino, unless a ball is actually touching the pallino, in which case you would get two points for “kissing” the ball.  All other points are awarded for any balls this same player/team has thrown also closer to the pallino than anyone else.   As in playing a game like croquet, a bocce ball thrown can hit an opponent’s ball further away from the pallino.
Throwing all eight bocce balls and scoring is considered a “frame.” The next frame starts when another player throws the pallino and then throws their bocce ball.  
Play continues until one player/team reaches 13.
Bocce ball sets are the best way to ensure that everyone is playing with similar sized and weight balls.

Croquet:  If you have a croquet set with mallets, stakes, balls, and hoops you might consider setting this up for the 4th of July picnic at your acreage. Use rules included in the set, or just make some up.  A lot of fun can be had with children (of all ages) when you come up with creative rules!
No matter what you decide to do for the 4th of July, be sure to enjoy time with friends and family.  Celebrate the birth of our great nation and spend a moment in reflection of the Founding Fathers, considering the freedoms we enjoy today are the direct result of their courageous actions.