Reflections on the Fourth of July

By Anna Ferraro

While the grills are cooling off and leftover patriotic décor is marked down for quick post-holiday sale, I’m wondering how many of us truly celebrated the Fourth of July for all that it is truly worth. In reflection on the expiration of another holiday, here are some thoughts and quotes.

John Adams, a leader in the fight for independence from Great Britain, our second president and a signer of the Declaration of Independence stated: “[The Fourthof July] 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.”

So, what’s the significance of this day? On July 4, 1776, a group of 56 courageous men gathered in Philadelphia, Mass. and signed a document declaring that they were willing to die for their ideals, saying in the words of Thomas Jefferson, “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.”

When those men placed their signatures on that world-changing document, they were keenly aware that they were, in essence, signing their lives away. John Adams said, “I am well aware of the toil and blood and treasure it will cost us to maintain this declaration, and support and defend these states. Yet through all the gloom I see the rays of ravishing light and glory. I can see that the end is worth all the means. This is our day of deliverance.”

For eight years, the bloody battle for independence from Great Britain raged. Finally, on September 3, 1783, in the plan of Divine Providence, the colonies defeated their mother country, and the young nation was formed. And today, America still stands as a nation “under God, with liberty and justice for all.” Do we commemorate that in our Fourth of July celebrations? I tend to agree with Thomas Jefferson when he said, “How little do my countrymen know what precious blessings they are in possession of, and which no other people on earth enjoy!”

So, when this holiday rolls around again, yes, let’s do fireworks and cookouts, parades and picnics. But primarily, may we as a nation heed the words of our first president and use this day as an opportunity to, as George Washington said, “… acknowledge the providence of Almighty God, to obey His will, to be grateful for His benefits, and humbly to implore His protection and favor.”

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