It is more than just a day where vibrant colors explode in the air, or a parade of red, white and blue marches through our neighborhood, or the best barbeque on the block occurs. Independence Day represents the official severing of ties between the original 13 colonies and the rule of Great Britain, and it is the essence of the core of our beliefs. There is so much to learn about the Fourth of July, and most people have little clue about a great deal of it. For instance, did you know that we should actually celebrate it on July 2nd? In history, the second Continental Congress originally voted for Independence on July 2, 1776. John Adams wrote a letter to his wife with the prediction that the 2nd of July would be celebrated for generations to come as the “great anniversary festival.” The reason we have chosen to acknowledge the Fourth is because July 4, 1776 was the day Congress “officially” adopted the Declaration of Independence document, which wasn’t signed until later in the summer.
It is also interesting to note that the 4th of July hasn’t always been recognized as a national holiday. Americans started observing this day as early as 1777. Our first official Fourth of July consisted of a major celebration in Philadelphia with a parade, a 13-shot cannon salute, and the infamous fireworks. However, Congress didn’t make it official until 1870. This was the result of a bill passed to recognize major state holidays at a federal level.
The most common public declaration in unity made on the Fourth ends with “liberty and justice for all.” Conversely, the Pledge of Allegiance did not exist during the lifetimes of our founding fathers and was written in 1892, which was over a century after America was founded. We recite it with pride today, and the next time you do, think about saluting George Washington, John Adams, Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, Alexander Hamilton, James Monroe and, of course, Benjamin Franklin. After all, it was these men who structured the American democracy and left a legacy that has changed the world.
Speaking of Thomas Jefferson and John Adams, these two memorable founding fathers took their last breaths on a Fourth of July. Thomas Jefferson, the author of the Declaration of Independence, died at the age of 83 in his Monticello home on July 4, 1826. Ironically, John Adams passed away on the same day. He was 90 years old and his last words were, “Thomas Jefferson still survives,” not knowing that his friend had passed just five hours earlier. As the fireworks go off and you have your hand over your heart, remember that this day is also in loving memory of the extraordinary men who shaped this country forever.
Sabrina Short, Staff Writer