Happy Birthday America!
The Declaration of Independence. The halfway point of the year. Fireworks. Backyard BBQ’s. Concerts. Parties. Trips to the beach. Summertime.
The Fourth of July has always been my favorite holiday. Don’t get me wrong I love em all, but this one, since the day I waved my first sparkler, has been tops in my book.
As a kid, it was up early and play all day. Compared to other holidays it seemed stress free. No turkey, no presents. No relatives flying in. We didn’t even have to clean the house because on this day everyone would be enjoying festivities outdoors. The menu was simple; burgers, dogs, corn-on-the-cob and watermelon.
The moment there was even a hint of dusk, we’d break out the sparklers as a prelude to the piece de resistance – the fireworks display behind the grade school in Cedar Knolls. Somehow, every year, they figured out a way to make the show bigger and better than the year before.
My love for the holiday has grown stronger over the years for the reasons mentioned and several additional ones.
I think it’s typically American to overlook the true meaning of holidays. In most cases it’s just one more excuse to party (not that there’s anything wrong with that). The longer I hang out on God’s green earth, the broader and deeper my perspective becomes regarding the history of America. Recently, I’ve become somewhat obsessed with how we’ve been able to get where we are today as a society and as a nation.
July 4th is all about our nation’s independence, Essentially, *Tom, Ben, John and the boys pushed their political differences aside and put a stake in the ground. Their goal was to free the colonies from the tyrannical rule of the King of England. The stake would be articulated in The Declaration of Independence. Until today, I was familiar with only one line:
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.
While it clearly declares,“All men are created equal”, it wasn’t until 1865 that Lincoln took action against slavery with The Emancipation Proclamation and later the 13th Amendment went into effect to abolish slavery. In 1776 that line had nothing to do with race and everything to do with freeing the colonies from British rule.
I believe the reason we don’t reference much else in the DOI is because it was essentially a laundry list of issues our forefathers had with the king (like his refusal to approve laws that made sense for America including, among others, laws for naturalization of foreigners).
I marvel that our forefathers were able to take on Britain and win. A true David vs. Goliath story. Imagine what would have been if we caved to King George III and the British empire? How would that have changed the course of American history?
Declaring our freedom required a different attitude than exists today. Our leaders had to put aside their political differences and agree to a single point of focus – freedom. Having the ability to do that is what made America great. They realized without 100% solidarity they could not achieve their outcome. They got busy and got it done. God bless America and our forefathers who made it great!
*Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Franklin and John Adams