You have to love a nation that celebrates its independence every July 4, not with a parade of guns, tanks, and soldiers who file by the White House in a show of strength and muscle, but with family picnics where kids throw Frisbees, the potato salad gets iffy, and the flies die from happiness. You may think you have overeaten, but it is patriotism.
This Fourth of July, we might find ourselves barbecuing, congregating with loved ones and enjoying our precious free time. But July Fourth is also a time to step back, take stock and appreciate the deep freedoms we enjoy every day.
Celebrating the Fourth of July is one of the best parts about summer. You get to barbecue with your family, watch fireworks and spend the entire day celebrating the anniversary of the signing of the Declaration of Independence. In 1776, founding father and soon-to-be president, Thomas Jefferson wrote what is now the United States’ most famous and cherished document to give a list of grievances against King George III of England. It was written to justify the colonies breaking away from the mother country and becoming an independent nation. Revised by Benjamin Franklin and John Adams, the Declaration of Independence was signed by our founding fathers and accepted by Congress on July 4,1776.
But the spirit of Independence Day is not only about the United States officially becoming a country. It’s about celebrating the values that the country was founded upon. The Declaration of Independence was written with the theory that every person has inherent rights, called “self-evident truths” in the official document. It reads: “We 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.”
Harry Rubenstein, a curator of American politics at the Smithsonian Institution, says that Independence Day celebrates those very ideals of democracy, liberty and the pursuit of happiness and is for anyone who finds faith in the words “all men are created equal.” But he says it is also a holiday to remember and honor those first Americans who made sacrifices to create the Republic and then defend it over the years.
Rubenstein says that it’s also important to remember that as Americans, we should continue to embody the values our country was built on. “These are principles that you achieve and not just state,” he says. “[Our country] is a work in progress.” As Stephen F. Decatur put it, “Our Country, in her intercourse with foreign nations may she always be in the right, but Our Country, right or wrong.”
Independence Day is our national holiday, has a huge historical significance and it deserves to be a day of celebration.
Even when the Declaration of Independence was signed, John Adams believed it should be commemorated in a celebratory manner. He wrote to his wife Abigail, “I am apt to believe that it will be celebrated, by succeeding generations, as the great anniversary festival… It ought to be solemnized with pomp and parade, with shows, games, sports, guns, bells, bonfires, and illuminations, from one end of this continent to the other, from this time forward forever more.”
So from sunrise to sunset have all the fun you want this Independence Day. Celebrate life and the way we live it, and when you see the fireworks light up the sky at Seminole State Park or wherever you may be, remember what they stand for and thank God for them.
Have a safe and happy Fourth of July celebration!
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