“I always consider the settlement of America with reverence and wonder…”
For days and weeks, Congress debated and revised the wording of the Declaration of Independence, finally approving it on July 4, 1776, setting for all time forward the date of birth of a new Nation, “Conceived in liberty and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal”.
John Adams, writing to his wife Abigail said about the day, “[it] 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.”
From the outset Americans celebrated Independence Day on July 4th, the date shown on the much-publicized Declaration of Independence, the date the resolution of independence was approved in a closed session of Congress, and the date subsequently declared a legal federal holiday in 1941. Each year and every generation since has noted the anniversary of our Nations birth very much in the way John Adams had envisioned in 1776, with parades, fireworks, shows, sport, games, celebration, bonfires and bells.
As we gather farther and farther away from the monumental moment and the memory of a time and governess less free and less generous with individual liberty, our full appreciation for the magnitude of this historic moment and the words of this document gets diluted in the moments of the days celebrations and feasts.
As we congregate this July Fourth, let us not fail to remember the meaning of the words of that Declaration written in 1776 and the personal and individual rights, liberties and life’s pursuits it established forever as self-evident and guaranteed to us by our Constitution.
“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.”
The passage has come to represent a moral standard to which we, as citizens of United States, should strive and a major statement on human rights for millions of people all around the world.
On reflection of our birth as a nation, John Adams (1735–1826) commented, “I always consider the settlement of America with reverence and wonder, as the opening of a grand scene and design in providence, for the illumination of the ignorant and the emancipation of the slavish part of mankind all over the earth.
Happy Birthday America!