Baby Boomers -- are you ready?
Commonly known as the Fourth of July, it is a government-declared federal holiday in the United States commemorating the "adoption" (did you notice I put that word in parenthesis) of the Declaration of Independence on July 4, 1776, declaring our independence from the Kingdom of Great Britain.
Now-a-days we celebrate Independence Day with death defying fireworks shows, heartwarming small town parades, big old family barbecues, carnivals and street fairs, extravagant picnics, patriotic concerts, baseball games, family reunions, and political speeches and ceremonies, in addition to various other public and private events.
Whew, that's a lot of celebrating for one day!
Up until today, boomers, we have been led like sheep by our government and big retail business together to use this day, July 4th, to extol the wonders of our national history, the successes of our illustrious government, and historical traditions that define these here United States.
Not any more!
Let's take a few minutes to peel back the onion before we put it on that slightly overcooked grilled burger and find out exactly what the 4th of July is all about.
Listen to this story.
The Revolutionary War, which started the ball rolling for our independence from England, began in 1775.
It lasted until 1783.
In the pre-United States, this military rebellion against Great Britain was formally declared as a legal separation by the existing 13 colonies which joined together as the United States of America on July 2, 1776.
On this date, the Second Continental Congress voted to approve a "Resolution of Independence" that had actually been proposed in back in June by Richard Henry Lee of Virginia declaring the United States independent from Great Britain.
Did you hear what I said? "The formal legal separation of the original Thirteen Colonies from Great Britain occurred on July 2, 1776"
So, I think we are celebrating "Independence Day" on the wrong date.
It gets better.
After voting for our independence (yeah), Congress turned its attention to the completing of a formal "Declaration of Independence."
This document, explaining our decision to formalize our independence was prepared by a group called the "Committee of Five," with Thomas Jefferson as its principal author.
Congress heatedly debated and revised the wording of the Declaration, finally approving it two days later on July 4.
As an interesting side-note, on the day before we initially declared our independence from England (July 1st), John Adams had written to his wife Abigail:
"The second day of July, 1776, will be the most memorable epoch 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 shows, games, sports, guns, bells, bonfires, and illuminations, from one end of this continent to the other, from this time forward forever more."
Adams's prediction was off by two days.
But history has always been the beneficiary of cloudy memories and "fuzzy math."
From the outset, Americans celebrated independence on July 4, the date shown on the much-publicized Declaration of Independence, rather than on July 2, the date the resolution of independence was approved in a closed session of Congress.
Historians have long disputed whether Congress actually signed the Declaration of Independence on July 4, even though Thomas Jefferson, John Adams, and Benjamin Franklin all later wrote that they had signed it on that day.
Most historians have concluded that the Declaration was signed nearly a month after its adoption, on August 2, 1776, and not on July 4 as is commonly believe.
Interesting turn of events huh?
OK, so now we have three days to celebrate our independence:
1. July 2nd: The date the resolution was signed and the legal separation of the Thirteen Colonies from Great Britain occurred
2. July 4th:The day Congress finished their debate and revision of the wording of the Declaration and finally approved it.
And... wait for it... wait for it...
3. August 2nd: The day most historians have concluded that the Declaration was actually signed.
Or more if you consider that we continued this battle against England until 1783.
So Baby Boomers, it looks like we have a real problem here.
What is the proper date to celebrate our independence on?
I don't think we have a problem here.
Why don't we celebrate all three days?
I mean, is any of these days to be held any less important than the others?
If I can add (even more of) my two cents worth, I think we should be celebrating "Independence Month" instead of "Independence Day."
Imagine the positive effect this would have on the economy.
Every day in July (and early August for that matter) becomes part of the celebration so every day demands a bar-b-que.
It is a well known fact that stores (Check my Walmart blog from last year for statistical evidence) sell more meat and food and beer and charcoal and fireworks and soda and beer and snacks and condiments and beer on holidays.
All of the suppliers will sell more to the stores.
More folks are employed by the stores, delivery companies, produce and meat companies, farmers, etc...
Unemployment drops significantly.
Everybody has more disposable income (and time to spend it since we are celebrating for a whole month) and starts buying new cars, TV's, homes, etc.
The economy grows stronger and before you know it the United States becomes an economic superpower once again.
Oh, but I digress as usual.
I don't believe Americans really understand what July 4th is all about.
July 4 isn't about celebrating an "event" that occurred in 1776.
It's not like it was the "country's birthday" where people celebrate the day it was born.
The United States wasn't actually born on July 4.
We had to win a war first remember?
What truly happened is that our glorious forefathers stated their "intentions" on July 4.
July 4 was a formalized launch of our already ongoing insurrection against the King of England.
We drew the proverbial "line in the sand" and it was on our Eastern seaboard.
So no matter what day (or month) we celebrate "Independence Day", the bottom line is that we celebrate, as one, to reaffirm our commitment, as a country, to our freedom, liberty and privilege of choice.
July 4 is a reminder to the rest of the world of what US citizens are prepared to do to achieve and retain these rights.
The Constitution is a pledge by the people of the United States, to themselves, to preserve freedom at all costs.
July 4th is not a day for the government.
July 4th is not a day for big business.
July 4th is a day for the people.
Let me finish with another section of that same letter that John Adams had written to his wife Abigail on July 3rd:
"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(regret) it, which I trust in God We shall not."
Smart man... huh?
That's the ideal that we should be celebrating.
Happy "Independence Month" to everyone.