The Fourth of July

“We, therefore, the Representatives of the united States of America, in General Congress, Assembled, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of our intentions, do, in the Name, and by Authority of the good People of these Colonies, solemnly publish and declare, That these United Colonies are, and of Right ought to be Free and Independent States.” ~ The Declaration of Independence

OOO

The Fourth of July is my favorite holiday. Every year I look forward to it more than Christmas and New Years and Halloween and Thanksgiving combined. There is nothing, nothing like this day in the entire world.

Nearly everyone I know enjoys Independence Day as well, for who doesn’t like fireworks and barbeques? Who doesn’t appreciate the overabundance of coleslaw, the flags waving solemnly in the breeze, the music that is sung to honor our country? Who doesn’t love the parades and the parties and the gathering of family and friends?

But there is a deeper, richer reason why the Fourth of July is so meaningful to me, and that is obviously the story behind the traditions, the whole motive behind our celebrations. I am talking, of course, about the incredible, indescribable history of the day that marked the first day of the signing of the most beautiful document I have ever seen and will ever see.

The Declaration of Independence as I saw it in 2008

Fifty-six men signed the Declaration of Independence over the course of several months starting in July of 1776, declaring the colonies to be free of British rule. Their actions were looked upon as uncalled for by some and unnecessarily arrogant by many more… but the men (and women!) that helped to found the United States pressed onward despite the fact that their goals were nearly impossible to bring to reality. And every time this holiday rolls around, I think of how incredible it would be if every citizen of this nation embodied the same courage and defiance that the United States’ forefathers had during the American Revolution. I think of what an amazing impact people would have on the many crooks and corrupt politicians that help to run our country. After all, as the Declaration puts it, “But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.”

The Fourth of July marks one of many days where Americans have the chance to look past their differences and come together as one nation, indivisible, with true liberty and justice for all. It is a day we can lay down our figurative weapons and perhaps overlook our political barriers and maybe even put aside the racism and sexism and prejudice that still exists and unite.

On the Fourth of July, I think to some extent we each remember what America was meant to be when it was declared a free country. We remember what our forefathers had in store the day they started to draft the Declaration of Independence. I don’t believe we have reached that goal just yet, because people still suffer from sea to shining sea. Millions of Americans live in poverty, many because of our current recession. Many are treated like second-class citizens because of their race or financial status or even their gender. We are luckier than most other countries by far; however, we are still a ways away from being the country our forefathers dreamed it would be, the country we could still be.

But that is what is so amazing about this day. On this day, we remember.

And maybe – just maybe – we have hope.

OOO

O say can you see by the dawn’s early light,
What so proudly we hailed at the twilight’s last gleaming,
Whose broad stripes and bright stars through the perilous fight,
O’er the ramparts we watched, were so gallantly streaming?
And the rockets’ red glare, the bombs bursting in air,
Gave proof through the night that our flag was still there;
O say does that star-spangled banner yet wave,
O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave?

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