There is no other day on the calendar that says summertime like the 4th of July. There will be countless parades, festivals, BBQ’s, flyovers, and fireworks shows all across America showcasing our love for our country. Even Donald Trump is taking time out of his Presidential calendar to host an extravaganza on the National Mall. (I bet it’s going to be huge and unbelievable!) So, before we all get into our cutoff jeans, USA tank tops, and head out to a local parade to wave our miniature American flags (hopefully not made in China), let me remind you why our Independence Day is so darn important.
Before America became the United States of America, there were the 13 colonies under British rule (New York, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, Virginia, Georgia, Delaware, South Carolina, North Carolina, Connecticut, Maryland, New Jersey, Rhode Island). There were several reasons why the colonies wanted to become independent from Britain, but a big one was “taxation without representation”. Eventually, the colonies formed a Continental Congress which, in June of 1776, began to debate on the formation of a Declaration of Independence. The delegation met in Philadelphia, which is where Richard Lee of Virginia said his most famous words, “Resolved: That these United Colonies are, and of right ought to be, free and independent States, that they are absolved from all allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political connection between them and the State of Great Britain is, and ought to be, totally dissolved.” After taking a break on July 1 from endless debating (nine colonies were in favor of independence, but there was a need to have all thirteen in favor), the Continental Congress returned on July 2 to take a vote for independence from Britain. The New York members were not in attendance after the break (those dirty British troops had sailed right to the shore of New York City!), thereby casting an abstaining vote for New York, which led to twelve of the thirteen colonies voting in favor of a Declaration of Independence from Britain and King George!
There was no rest or celebration following the vote. July 3rd and 4th were filled with constructing a Declaration of Independence, which was finally adopted the evening of July 4th, 1776. Word didn’t really get out until Monday, July 8th, when bands played, bells rang, speeches were made, parades filled the streets, and celebrations erupted all over. Interestingly enough is that the Declaration of Independence is not completely signed until August 2nd, for a variety of reasons, one being that British troops had landed in New York and were marching around trying to quell the rebellion. Also, the Congress wanted an elegant copy made (that took some time back then) for all members to sign and to be sent to the King. John Hancock, President of the Continental Congress, is said to have signed so large and clearly that King George could not mistake his signature for anyone else’s. Take that King George!
The rest is history! We have a vast land with multiple cultures and a variety of lifestyles. All of this is because of the Declaration of Independence, and it is utterly important that we cherish and defend it. Without it we could still be paying taxes to Britain and allowing them to move in on whatever or wherever they please. Perhaps the following World Wars would have ended differently without the power and feistiness of the American military. We may not have been the first country to put a man on the surface of the moon. Baseball and Football may not have evolved the way they have (no World Series or Super Bowl!?!?) The foresight and innovation that the Continental Congress had in drafting the Declaration of Independence is what allows us to expand and form into the great nation we are today.
Try to pay homage to our historical figures who dreamed of a nation that could be free to be who they are without outside rule. Visit a naval ship or an air show to get a sense of how proud our military is to fight for us. Travel across our country to see just how massive and diverse we are. I’ve driven across the country several times and it was never dull! Now that I gave you two dates to celebrate our independence (July 4 and August 2), you can get twice as many opportunities this summer!
So wave your American flag, attend a parade, light a sparkle, and celebrate the fact the you are an American citizen. And there is nothing better than that!