Each year on July 4, the United States celebrates its Independence Day. Independence Day is considered one of our most important national holidays and is a symbol of patriotism. The tradition of celebrating the 4th of July as our country’s “Independence Day” dates all the way back to the 18th century and the American Revolution.
Our national holiday commemorates a time when men representing the 13 colonies came together after struggling against Great Britain’s rule and dared to ask a controversial question: Could they declare their own independence? On July 2, 1776, the Continental Congress voted in favor of the declaration. Just 2 days later on July 4, delegates of the Congress adopted and ratified a historical document drafted by Thomas Jefferson that declared all men are “endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights” and that “to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed.” After establishing at length that the king had been destroying these rights, the document concluded that “these united Colonies are, and of Right ought to be Free and Independent States, that they are absolved from all Allegiance to the British Crown.” This life-changing document was our Declaration of Independence. It was monumental. From that day forward, the 4th of July has signified the birth of America’s independence.
The Declaration of Independence marked that the American people would not just be fighting against certain policies of the king, they would be fighting for something: liberty, and a nation of their own. These Americans placed a high value on freedom, and they were willing to pay for it. Of course, those who paid the highest price were the men who took up arms and became soldiers. Without the ideals expressed in the Declaration—and people willing to sacrifice for those ideals—there would have been no cause for which to fight. This is why we remember the adoption of a document, not a military victory, as the moment our nation was born. In July 1776, there was only an estimated 2.5 million people living in our newly independent country. By 2013, that number had grown to 316.2 million people. (www.census.gov)
The 4th of July often comes with the opportunity to enjoy time with family, cookout, and enjoy firework displays. American flags proudly fly and The United States national anthem can be heard at events and organized celebrations. Independence Day is particularly important to seniors, as most elderly men fought in a branch of the military and their wives spent long months hoping for their safe return. Patriotism is important to seniors. They value the concept of freedom and often paid the ultimate sacrifice to promote it. It’s this sense of pride that led people from all points of the globe to migrate to this country. As we celebrate Independence Day this year and for years to come, let’s take the time to keep the details of our country’s journey alive. Children and grandchildren should know about the struggles and accomplishments our senior loved ones experienced in search of freedom. After all, every family plays a role in America’s own unique story.