IMG_1168Today, we celebrate the birth of a nation. As the saying goes, Rome wasn’t built in a day and neither was America. 1013 years ago in 1000 AD, Leif Erikson landed on the shores of North America. A Viking warrior, he was looking for land south of Greenland that his father had written about years earlier. He headed south and found rich forests and sandy beaches. Traveling south west, he found richer lands with grape vines that  produced the sweetest wines. He and his crew set up camp and named the settlement Vinland (The Wine Land) and stayed all winter. Come spring, they headed back to his Scandinavian homeland.

It wasn’t until the late 1960’s that archaeologists discovered the remains of Norse housing in what is now  Newfoundland. It is believed that Erikson and his crew explored further inland into the northern reaches of America. Other Norse explorers followed and were supposedly chased away in a hail of arrows by Natives the Vikings called skraelings, or “wretched people.”

Then in 1492, Christopher Columbus left Italy and showed up with his three big ships and better weapons than Norse broad swords and knives.4305_589083215756_1785799_n

In 1584 Queen Elizabeth I, authorized Sir Walter Raleigh to colongize America. The first English Colony of Roanoke Island off the coast of North Carolina. Virginia Dare, the first Euorpean American, was born in 1587. Her father returned to Europe for suppllies and when he returned, his new daughter and the entire colongy had disappeared. His only clue was the single word carved into a tree that read: Croatan.

The colony was abandoned in 1590, but 22 years later, Jamestown was settled and the story of a nation truly begins.

The United States declared its independence July 4, 1776 and we went to war with Britain, a Revolution that gave birth to a new nation. The constitution was drafted  in September, 1787 and ratified in June 1788.  The nation began as 13 colonies but Manifest Destiny stretched the US borders from the Atlantic to the Pacific, leading to violent confrontations with the Native people.

The United States now consists of fifty states and several territories including the US Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico. People of every color and nationality call the US home, making it one of the most culturally diverse countries on the planet. But we still 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.