July 4, 1776 ~ July 4, 2014!
Each of us has an idea of what this day means to us: patriotism, family, an enjoyable break from routine. But few know what it truly symbolizes. Here is what the 4th of July does not represent:
– It’s NOT the day that began the American Revolution; that was April 1775.
– It’s NOT the day Thomas Jefferson wrote the first draft of the Declaration of Independence; that was June 1776.
– It’s NOT the day the Continental Congress decided to vote for independence; that was on July 2nd, 1776.
– It’s NOT the day the Declaration was delivered to Great Britain; that happened in November of 1776.
So what do we celebrate on July 4th? Specifically, this is the date the Second Continental Congress approved the final wording of the Declaration of Independence. It was not celebrated for the first couple of decades after the signing. It was still new and our nation was engaged in turmoil. There were intense conflicts between political parties by the 1790s and the Declaration was hotly debated. It wasn’t until the 1820s and 1830s, after the War of 1812, that it was universally accepted and printed copies began to circulate widely. These had the date July 4, 1776, printed at the top.
Celebrations of the date became more common until, in 1870, Congress declared July 4 to be a national holiday.
What does it mean to us in 2014? Today we celebrate our great nation and its ability to stand in the face of conflict, both internally and from without. We celebrate the wisdom of our founders who put together this unique document, our Declaration of Independence. We celebrate the hard-working Americans working in refineries, power houses, oil fields, construction sites – as well all the jobs that are the backbone of our nation. And we celebrate with gratitude our veterans, the men and women who fought, sacrificed, and gave their lives so that we can still proudly stand as an independent nation 238 years later.
God bless all our veterans – past, present, and future – and God bless the United States of America.