Today, as our nation marks day one of its 240th year, all Americans should celebrate our freedoms that are unmatched anywhere else in this world with a salute to a single flag — the American flag.
There has been far too much acrimony lately in conversations about flags, and now is a great time to remember what we all have in common — and how fortunate we are today to be benefiting from the vision and sacrifices of our Founding Fathers.
You have to love a country whose Founding Fathers wanted its citizens, and their descendants, to celebrate their national day by going out and having some serious fun, as has been had in this county the last few day. The traditions of fireworks, food, parades and concerts are as old as Independence Day itself.
John Adams,a signer of the Declaration of Independent and our second president, was positively visionary about the nation’s birthday. He wrote to his wife Abigail on the night of July 3, 1776, that the event should be marked annually by “pomp and parade, with shews (shows), games, sports, guns, bells, bonfires and illuminations from one end of this continent to the other from this time forward for ever more.”
An interesting fact about Adams and his nemesis, Thomas Jefferson, the nation’s third president and also a signer of the declaration, is that they died hours apart, on July Fourth, 1826, this nation’s 50th birthday.
Adams thought that Independence Day would be celebrated on July 2, when the Continental Congress unanimously approved a resolution he sent to the floor declaring “that these united colonies are, and of right ought to be free and independent states.”
But the Congress, setting an example that is honored by our lawmakers to this day, dallied in finishing up some related matters, and so July 4 got the honor of being this nation’s birthday.
Of immediate importance to the signers of the declaration was seceding from Britain, thus provoking a war with the military superpower of the day — and the bulk of the declaration is, in fact, a long list of grievances against the tyrannical British who wanted our taxes but were unwilling to give us a voice. A day that called for bells, bonfires and fireworks could have just as easily ended on the gallows.
Of far more lasting import was a single sentence in the declaration that succinctly summed up the American ideal: “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.” These are great words to remember today as race continues to polarize Americans.
In 1778, the Continental Congress gathered in Philadelphia to observe July 4, and part of that celebration was 13 toasts, the first of them to “The United States of America.”
Hear, hear. A happy 239th birthday to American, and a happy holiday to all of you.