As is the case with most holidays, the true meaning of the Fourth of July has been lost behind our commercialized culture. To many, Independence Day is about fireworks, pool parties, and backyard barbecues. However it is much, much more than that. On this day more than 200 years ago, the 2nd Continental Congress adopted the text authored by Thomas Jefferson that would later become known as the Declaration of Independence and authorized its printing for the colonists. With a few strokes of the pen, our Founding Fathers announced to the English Crown and to the rest of the world that America was free from the tyranny of a foreign monarchy.
We do not only celebrate the act of adopting the Declaration, we also celebrate the courage that it took to get there. Our Founding Fathers met sporadically for over a year debating whether to plead with King George to make a deal or declare outright independence. It was not easy. Many in the Congress remained loyal to the crown. In addition, British colonial governors had issued edicts banning assemblies and declaring participants in such as traitors to the crown, which was punishable by death. It took statesmen like John Adams to motivate the delegation to cast off King George’s shackles even if it had the potential to cost them their heads.
Those 56 brave signatories in the Class of 1776 announced in one voice to the entire world that the most powerful empire in the world no longer had dominion over them. They laid the foundation for an entire nation built on the concept of individual freedom and republicanism. Their courage and foresight gave rise to not only a free country, but one that would eventually become a “shining city on a hill”, the model of freedom and democracy for all nations, and the most powerful force in the history of the world.
Today is NOT just a day off from work and prime time to cook out. Today is our Independence Day. Take the time to reflect on just how much pain and sacrifice it took to get here . . . . then light your sparklers.