Fireworks [by Schoolhouse Rock]
On July 4th, 237 years ago, the Patriot leaders of the British colonial resistance in North America adopted a document that declared their independence from the rule of Great Britain. The colonies were already a year into this fight for independence (when the first shots were fired by only God knows who in Lexington, Massachusetts on April 19, 1775), and still had many years to go (while the war formerly ended at Yorktown, Virginia in October 1781, the fighting continued for another two years).
But on this day, 237 years ago, the Continental Congress adopted,
printed, and distributed what is known as the Declaration of Independence.
Note: According to historians and the Library of Congress,
the actual signing didn’t occur until August 2, 1776.
OK…now that we have the proper historical context
of what “Independence Day” is about…
Independence Day here in the United States has become more than just the day we officially declared our independence from Britain. It’s true that many have forgotten the true meaning of this holiday and simply think of it as a day free from work, for picnics, and for shooting off fireworks (which is a lot of fun, don’t get me wrong). After all, in a letter to his wife Abigail, John Adams wrote the following of how future generations of Americans would celebrate the 4th of July:
“I am apt to believe that it will be celebrated, by succeeding Generations, as the great anniversary Festival. It ought to be commemorated, as the Day of Deliverance by solemn Acts of Devotion to God Almighty. It ought to be solemnized with Pomp and Parade, with Shews, Games, Sports, Guns, Bells, Bonfires and Illuminations from one End of this Continent to the other from this Time forward forever more.”
A solemn event, marked with the illuminations of fireworks all across the skies of this great nation with games, fun, and all the proper bells and whistles…
I think that overall, John Adams would be pleased
with our celebrations on this day, don’t you?
But many also understand that the 4th of July is much more than that. We do regard this day with a level of solemnity as we remember those who, in the highest acts of devotion, allows us this day to celebrate freedom, the fight for equality, and the idea that “we hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, among these are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness” (note: capitalization of words are straight from the Declaration of Independence itself).
While as a nation we may not all agree on the politics of how these terms and ideas are interpreted and enforced, we do have to agree that on the world’s stage, we are fortunate to enjoy the freedoms that we do. We are free to live our lives without fear of the government tyranny that we see others in the world facing. We are free to speak our minds without fear of being imprisoned or even killed. We are free to believe and worship as we feel led to without fear of being persecuted beyond the slanderous names we may be called for what we believe or our political leanings due to our beliefs. We are free to be who we are, no matter our gender, race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, beliefs, or creed, and know that we will not be enslaved or killed for being so. We are free to choose who we want to be and what we want to do in life…and work hard to pursue those dreams to our fullest potential without government telling us what we can and cannot do (short of harming others in their pursuits).
We are free to enjoy the Life, Liberty, and Pursuit of Happiness
we are all endowed by our Creator as our unalienable rights.
Today, I give thanks to my Creator for giving me the opportunity to enjoy the freedoms I do here in the United States. I give thanks for the men and women who have and continue to lay down their lives in order to protect the very freedoms I am thankful for. I give thanks for the peace I get to enjoy when so many others around the world do not get to (whom we continue to pray for).
In short, I am thankful that I get to call the
United States of America my home.
God bless this land that I love.
My tribute to this great nation – from April 2009, Gwinnett Braves Game
 A Letter from John Adams to Abigail Adams, 3 July 1776, “Had a Declaration…” [electronic edition]. Adams Family Papers: An Electronic Archive. Massachusetts Historical Society. http://www.masshist.org/digitaladams/ [accessed July 4, 2013]