Lessons for the 4th of July

“…this great anniversary festival 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 shows, games, sports, guns, bells, bonfires and illuminations, from one end of the county to the other, from this time forever more.”

– John Adams to Abigail Adams

July 3, 1776

The Fourth of July is a fun day.

It is a day for picnics, cookouts, family get-togethers, and beach parties. Americans, in general, celebrate their nation’s birthday with vacation time in the sun.

There’s nothing wrong with that, but maybe it’s also time to take a moment to think about the 238th anniversary of America’s independence, America’s freedom and America’s flag.

It seems someone is always trying to destroy our country and our freedoms. A few years ago, the United States of America suffered its most devastating attack from a foreign enemy.

Sept. 11, 2001, shocked America. That date is burned in our memory as July 4 was burned in the memory of our forefathers.

It was on July 4, 1776, that the Continental Congress endorsed the Declaration of Independence. We’ll probably never know if those men realized the significance of their actions.

Those Americans declared their independence on that Fourth of July. There is no event in U.S. history more important – none.

Without it, there would be no United States of America.

This must not be forgotten during the numerous fireworks displays, parades, family reunions, picnics and parties.

Actually, it was on June 7, 1776, that Richard Henry Lee, a representative from Virginia, introduced in the Continental Congress at Philadelphia a resolution declaring 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.”

The proposal was seconded by John Adams of Massachusetts, and came up again on June 10, when a five-member committee headed by Thomas Jefferson was appointed to put the idea of separation into a formal Declaration of Independence. Others on the committee included John Adams, Benjamin Franklin, Robert R. Livingston and Roger Sherman.

Jefferson was assigned the task of drafting the document, and worked on the historic paper from a portable desk of his own construction in a room at Market and 7th Streets in Philadelphia.

When the committee submitted its proposal to the full congress, a number of changes were suggested.

There was some debate, and in the end, there were 86 changes and 480 words eliminated. The final draft contains 1,337 words. Capitalization was erratic.

There were other errors. Jefferson had written that men were endowed with “inalienable” rights, but in the final copy, it came out as “unalienable” and is written that way even today.

The Lee-Adams resolution was adopted on July 2, 1776, but the Declaration, which explains the importance of the act, was adopted on the evening of July 4, 1776.

Though many Americans today seem to take it for granted, the Declaration of Independence is a powerful piece of writing – a true work of art.

“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.”