Independence Day is filled with lots of fun sights and rituals. Having a picnic, shooting off fireworks, attending a parade, and going out on the lake are the kinds of things every proud American does to celebrate.
What the vast majority of Americans don’t know, however, is that they are celebrating our independence exactly how one founding father intended.
Writing to his wife and best friend, Abigail, from the Continental Congress on July 3rd, 1776, John Adams informed her of the momentous news and contemplated the brand new nation that his and others’ efforts had just conceived.
(The delegates had formally approved the motion for independence on July 2nd, and Adams thought that would be the future Independence Day. Instead, we celebrate the day the Declaration of Independence was adopted on July 4th.)
“But the Day is past. The Second Day of July 1776, will be the most memorable Epocha, 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 Shews, Games, Sports, Guns, Bells, Bonfires and Illuminations from one End of this Continent to the other from this Time forward forever more.”
But Adams did not stop there. He recognized that independence brought great responsibility and risk to the new Americans.
“You will think me transported with Enthusiasm but I am not. — I am well aware of the Toil and Blood and Treasure, that it will cost Us to maintain this Declaration, and support and defend these States. — Yet through all the Gloom I can see the Rays of ravishing Light and Glory. I can see that the End is more than worth all the Means. And that Posterity will tryumph in that Days Transaction, even altho We should rue it, which I trust in God We shall not.”
This Fourth of July, let us recall the “Toil and Blood and Treasure” that has been sacrificed to secure our freedom.
Let us rememeber that the cost “to maintain this Declaration, and support and defend these States” is never fully paid.
Let us look past the challenges and controversies of today, and forward to “see the Rays of ravishing Light and Glory” that Adams saw in 1776.
And don’t forget to eat your fair share of hot dogs, shoot a roman candle, and watch a baseball game, just as one founder intended.