This Tuesday, July 4th, will be our country’s 241st birthday. (It also means 2017 is already half over. Jeez, where has it gone already and what is the hurry?) Independence Day, as it is known, is an annual American tradition...a time for beer, picnics, more beer, BBQ, additional beer, and fireworks nationwide, as well as some recurrent beer ingestion. Just outside my office in Kankakee, one is usually able to see fireworks from about four different sources, not including the illegal kind shot off by the kid just up the road, who will more than likely be making a visit to the emergency room later in the evening.
Considering the fact that we live in the greatest country that has ever existed in the history of mankind, during a technological and industrial era that is absolutely breathtaking in scope, I sometimes question if we really celebrate our great nation’s birthday properly, or give suitable homage to the convergence of forces that put this country in motion. Somewhere along the line this day seems to have become just another holiday, day off for many, and excuse to overindulge.
How many people know that:
* July 4th is a day to commemorate the adoption of the Declaration of Independence, declaring ourselves a separate nation from Great Britain?
* That Congress actually voted and approved the Declaration on July 2nd, 1776, not the 4th? John Adams wrote his wife on July 3rd, 1776 to let her know that henceforth, July 2nd would be a national holiday. (He would later die on July 4th in 1801.)
* The Declaration of Independence was not completely signed by all until August 2, 1776?
* It was Richard Henry Lee of Virginia who first proposed the Declaration of Independence, although it was Thomas Jefferson who wrote the basic document? (Thomas Jefferson would later die on July 4th in 1826!)
* Bristol Rhode Island has the distinction of holding the longest continuous Independence Day celebration, dating back to 1785 - 232 years!
* The Declaration was adopted by Congress at Independence Hall in Philadelphia PA, not Washington DC.
* "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" from the Declaration, is considered one of the best-known sentences in the English language, containing perhaps the most compelling words in American history.
*Abraham Lincoln considered the Declaration to be the foundation to his political philosophy and argued that the Declaration is a statement of principles through which the US Constitution should be interpreted.
In an earlier blog, I marveled at the sheer fortitude and intellect of the individuals who cobbled together this nation at a time when they didn't have the rudimentary skills for proper hygiene. I went so far as to question some sort of divine intervention. And I truly believe that - there had to have been some sort of help to create this nation that has lasted an incredible 241 years!
I still choke up during a well sung National Anthem. Who can forget Whitney Houston's belting out our Anthem so beautifully before Super Bowl XXV in 1991, an edition that went platinum, the first time the National Anthem cracked the Top 10 by any artist. A Jim Cornelius' version of our Anthem, with a soldier and an elderly veteran beside him before a Blackhawks hockey game, will bring goose bumps to me every time, and I bet it does to you too. A military fly over, such as was seen at our local hero, Col. Jim Kassler's Memorial, or at a pro football game, is an such an amazing experience as waves of nationalism course though your body. (Don't get me started on Colin Kapernick or some schmuck that won't remove his hat!) I realize that I may be a little over zealous in my patriotism, although I have to wonder if one can be over passionate at such a subject.
So, on the 241st Independence Day, I would ask you, my friends, to pause to reflect on those that created this nation, and those that served, particularly those that gave all to ensure we are the greatest nation on Earth. Here's some help...
"I pledge allegiance to the Flag of the United States of America, and to the Republic for which it stands, one Nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all."