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As fireworks sales begin, we should remember the second Fourth of July, in 1863, that was as critically important to the founding principles of the United States as the first, in 1776.

On July 4, 1863, the Confederate army at Vicksburg, Mississippi, surrendered, returning control of the river to the United States, cutting the Confederacy in two and severely damaging its war making abilities.

On July 4, 1863, the defeated Confederate army retreated from Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, marking the last time an enemy army would invade the United States. We must remember the more than 23,000 valiant U.S. soldiers who gave their lives at Gettysburg and the tens of thousands of U.S. soldiers who were grievously wounded.

In 1861, traitors ignited the Civil War in South Carolina, by shelling the U.S. Army’s Fort Sumpter and firing on the U.S. flag. That attack was what disrespect for the U.S. flag really is.

Numerous members of my late husband’s family, himself a four-year wartime Marine, were wounded or killed in that Civil War. As the child of British immigrants, the study of history and Christ’s words have taught me to put intrinsic principles before personal heredity.

On July 4, 1776, we rejected an autocratic, supremacist king. On July 4, 2018, I pray we all rededicate ourselves to the principles for which so many U.S. patriots fought and died.

Claire Kelly, Stevensville