This week America celebrates the 4th of July holiday. Most will be off work enjoying this day. Our family will be sleeping late, then preparing to grill hot dogs, eat ice cream, and watch fireworks … and if I can wave a flag while a parade marches by, all the better. Sadly, though, somewhere during my lifetime, I started taking this holiday for granted — thinking of it as simply a “freedom from work” day instead of celebrating the freedom we hold so dear. Well, today I’m setting the record straight.
I can’t tell you how it happened – perhaps raising a family, working, taking care of parents – but I forgot my love of history and realized how quickly courses of history can change. The 4th of July – celebrated as American Independence Day – represents the issuance of the Declaration of Independence and the birth of the United States of America as an independent nation. This singular document is an important part of our democracy and national history because it contains the ideals and goals of our nation, lists the complaints the colonies held against British rule, as well as the arguments the colonies had for freedom from British rule.
On July 2nd, the Continental Congress voted in favor of independence in a near-unanimous vote. Finally, on July 4, 1776, the thirteen colonies claimed their independence by signing their names to the now famous document. As I re-read the text this week, I was overcome with emotion. Here is a portion of the Declaration text:
“When in the Course of human events it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.
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. …”
I have taken the 4th of July and the freedoms I benefit from in this country for granted far too long. The older I get, the more grateful I am for this country, the sacrifices of the founding fathers and generations after, and the freedoms they argued over and fought for. With all its imperfections, the freedom we have make this a great nation. I love this country and everything that is perfect and imperfect in it. Will you join me in praying for our nation?
Psalm 119:45 “I will walk about in freedom, for I have sought out your precepts.”