Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Celebrating Our Independence Day

Celebrating the Fourth of July is one of the best parts about summer. You get to barbecue with your family, go for a swim, watch a fireworks show, go to a parade, take part in all the fun summer activities.

But another reason why July 4th is so special is because it’s Independence Day, a holiday 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.” 

Did you know that 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.”

Did you know that on July 9, 1776, George Washington ordered his officers to read the Declaration of Independence to their troops? He felt that explaining the rightness of the American cause would help the armies press the fight against the British.

This July 4, more than any of recent memory, it is right to reflect on "the blessings of liberty" and the acts of heroism required to secure them. The events of the last ten months have reminded us that despite their fame and talents, professional athletes, pop singers, and movie stars are not genuinely "heroic." Americans now look in admiration upon those firefighters, police officers and soldiers who risk — and sometimes sacrifice — their lives for others. This is a truer heroism, both sobering and inspiring.

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