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  • Writer's pictureKatherine Reese Kusza

The Tree of Liberty

I am old enough to remember the Bicentennial in 1976.

I may have been only four, but there were parades, The Tall Ships, colonial inspired dresses and bonnets in red, white and blue, homes redecorated in "Early American" with eagles tacked up over the front doors.

It was kind of a big deal.

My family often visited the Fort at No. 4 in Charlestown, NH during our pilgrimages to my father’s hometown.

We watched candle making, spinning, woodworking and musket loading, and cooking over an open hearth. We eagerly anticipated the penny candy in the gift shop. The era interpreted at the site predates the War of Independence by several decades, but it does a good job of demonstrating the precarious life of our colonial ancestors.

My 5th grade teacher taught the American Revolution as if her life depended on it. We knew names, dates, battles and memorized Longfellow's Paul Revere's Ride.

I don’t remember the poem anymore, nor many of the dates, but I have a fond recollection of a drawing of a man in a blue coat and tricorn hat riding a horse.

In high school, I worked as a summer camp counselor for two historic sites in New York. I made my own shift and had a blast dressing up and showing elementary school aged children what life was like for an 18th century indentured servant.

There was a lot of shoveling of manure, which prepared me greatly for adulthood.

Unfortunately, there weren’t any paying jobs there when I turned 18. I will have to wait until I retire to do historical interpretation again.

As a young wife and mother, I looked into joining a regional Rev War reenactment group. It was a time consuming and expensive hobby and my husband had more of a chance to do the fun stuff.

Even so, I sewed a jacket and petticoat and invested in a pair of stays and some outfits for the kids. If we were going to be his “baggage”, we were going to attempt to be authentic.

I read a lot of articles and books and we went to a few business meetings, but competing interests prevailed.

I got around to joining the Daughters of the American Revolution at the age of 28. My grandmother had been a member in the 1950s and there was more than one Patriot to choose from.

The genealogist in my chapter was thrilled to prove the line from a new, rather obscure one – a teenager named Simeon Upson who served out of Connecticut toward the end of the war.

To this date, no one else has claimed him, but I am rather more enamored of an ordinary farmer’s kid rucking up than any other relative who may or may not have been some sort of big shot at Ticonderoga.

We Daughters sometimes forget our ancestors were insurrectionists.

I am disappointed we haven’t really heard anything about the 250th anniversary of the founding of our nation. You would think we would need a few years to plan something for 2026.

I hope the tyrants in our government aren’t going to skip it (the Mad King George is certainly getting some competition from the puppeteers of the vegetable in the White House).

We have much taxation without representation and unreasonable search and seizure these days. The weaponization of our justice system and the behavior of most governors over the last few years are making the Intolerable Acts look like child’s play.

It may be time to water the Tree of Liberty.

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