Has the meaning of Independence been lost behind a smoke screened of fireworks? The holiday originally was more than explosive light shows. It was death-defying determination to escape totalitarian rule.
In a land, smaller and missing the millions who live here today 4,435 died because of the Declaration. They put action to the words, “appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of our intentions, … And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes and our sacred Honor.”
What if you could not buy products from Turkey, Germany or South Africa unless they first went to England and then were shipped to you with English taxes?
What if a British officer knocked on your door and informed you that ten soldiers would be staying at your home for a few months starting now?
What if you were not allowed to make the most basic laws governing the behavior of people in your state or community?
What if the government taxed you more than they taxed the people in England and refused to listen to your many questions and petitions?
Would you acquiesce or would you finally say, “Don’t tread on me!”
Would you and I have signed the document? Would we have laid down our lives, our bank accounts and reputations to back up our signatures?
It’s been said that to maintain our nation’s freedom it will take the same kind of resolve that it took to form it.
Let’s be grateful for the intelligence, wisdom and determination that those before us acted on to gain us freedom. Let us somberly remember our children and refresh this freedom with a resolve of our own!
John Adams wrote regarding the freshly signed Declaration.
“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. 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.”
Sadly, most holidays have been neutered of their potency.
We share presents, but forget the Advent.
We Barbeque and play a round of golf, but don’t remember those who have fallen.
We eat to gluttony, but forget to give thanks.
We set off fireworks, but forget the meaning of independence.
One more closing word from John Adams. On April 26th, 1777 Adams said, ”Posterity! You will never know, how much it cost the present Generation, to preserve your Freedom! I hope you will make a good Use of it. If you do not, I shall repent in Heaven, that I ever took half the Pains to preserve it.”
Steven C Johnson