Celebrate the true meaning of the day
Like last year, we have a three day weekend to celebrate our independence. Do you know the origin of the day, or has it become just another holiday? A video I saw this morning showed a young You Tuber asking people about the historical origin of the day. Can you imagine there are many Americans who can not give a good answer? Some just see it as a day to have a giant party.
Here in the Midwest, some towns began the party last night with fireworks while others are going for the more traditional 4th of July celebration. I am all in favor of the traditional celebrations. To me, moving the special events around is a signal that it is all about the party and I don’t think that should be it.
Independence Hall, Photo credit: Antoine Taveneaux, taken with Pentax K-5
The day is actually about an event that was a long time in the making. The final draft of the action of the Second Continental Congress was finished on July 2nd 1776 and passed on July 4th. The famous signing of the document did not take place for a month while waiting for all participants to be assembled. It did not lead to fireworks although the Revolutionary War had already begun. The Liberty Bell probably was not rung on the 4th according to historians. In fact, there likely was no party at all, as the matter was serious business for the delegates of the 13 colonies.
The group had already been meeting for over a year when the Declaration was made. During the previous July they had adopted The Olive Branch Petition in an attempt to avoid all out war with Great Britain. The very next day the Declaration of the Causes and Necessity of Taking Up Arms was issued. The Continental Army was formed and strategies were adopted. The bitter struggle that followed led the colonies to declare independence.
Three committees were formed in June 1776. One drafted a Model Treaty to establish a way to deal with foreign powers. Another was to write the Articles of Confederation to put together the model for governance of the colonies. A third committee of 5 members wrote the Declaration of Independence although it is largely considered the work of Thomas Jefferson. Some of his language was likely the source of lively debate. The result proves that difficult work can be done quickly and compromises can be reached across the many members.
When I put out my flag this morning, I noticed no others flying on the block. It made me wonder how many appreciated the events that went into the making of this holiday. How many really know the history of the Second Continental Congress that forged the nation we have today? How many think it is just some sort of day we set aside for picnics and fireworks? Has the meaning of the most important day in our nation’s history been lost?
It’s your party. That’s for sure. As a matter of fact, it is the party for everyone who calls these United States of America home. When you see the red, white and blue, let them have meaning for you today. If there was no particular meaning to the colors at the time they were adopted, let them be a symbol today. They stand for the freedom that allows us to live in a country where we can celebrate our freedoms openly. The people of many other countries can not throw such a party.