By Joe Silva
This Friday, July 4, 2014, Americans will gather with friends and families, enjoy cookouts, and watch fireworks as they celebrate our nation’s Independence Day. While the federal holiday is intended to be a celebration, it is important to remember what Independence Day represents.
In the 1770’s, our fore-fathers stood up against tyranny and took the first steps towards the freedoms and independence that Americans enjoy today.
In June, 1776, the American colonists had been at war with King George III’s rebellion-suppressing forces for more than a year. The Second Continental Congress decided that a formal statement of their intent was necessary. A committee was appointed to draft the declaration.
In July, 1776, the colonists’ Declaration of Independence was adopted. Future American President John Adams foresaw the momentousness of the occasion. He shared his feelings in a July 3rd letter to his wife Abigail:
“The second day of July, 1776, will be the most memorable epoch in the history of America. I am apt to believe that it will be celebrated by succeeding generations as the great anniversary festival. It 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 this continent to the other, from this time forward forever more.”
That’s right, the Declaration of Independence was actually approved by Congress on July 2, 1776, and the official signing date could have been any time from that date until mid-August. But for unknown reasons, the official copy is dated July 4, 1776. This does not take anything away from what the day represents, or the accuracy of Adams’ prediction.
Independence Day has been celebrated in many fashions over the years.
On July 4, 1777 in Bristol, Rhode Island, 13 gun shots were fired, one for each independent colony. Many military bases still perform this ritual, firing one shot for every U.S. state.
In 1778, General George Washington celebrated July 4th by offering a double ration of rum to his soldiers.
On July 4th 1946, the U.S. celebrated Independence Day by granting the Philippines their independence.
Declaring independence was the definitive action that severed ties with British rule. From that moment on, Americans would live free or die in defense of that freedom. This is the spirit that our military still personifies today, as American service members fight to defend freedom and democracy around the world.
Today, Americans celebrate Independence Day by holding fireworks extravaganzas, participating in patriotic/military events and parades, watching or playing baseball or other sports, holding hotdog eating contests, and attending gatherings with patriotic decorations and dishes.
This Friday, enjoy your freedom however you chose to. But remember to take a moment to reflect on what your freedom means, how it was attained, and how it is conserved for future generations of Americans.
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Military Connection: Independence Day in the USA! By Joe Silva