Happy Independence Day, everyone!
I hope y’all are enjoying your long holiday weekends! If you have been fortunate enough to have good weather, fantastic! My family didn’t plan any activities, and it’s just as well, because it has been raining on and off here all weekend. Even got a brief thunderstorm Saturday. But, rain or shine, it is still time to remember and celebrate the sacrifices made in the founding of this nation, and the many freedoms we still — for the most part and for the moment, anyway — enjoy as citizens and residents of the United States of America.
On June 7, 1776, Richard Henry Lee presented his resolution for independence from Great Britain to the 2nd Continental Congress in Philadelphia. Not all the colonies were ready to commit, so the delegates took a few weeks off to rest, discuss informally, and communicate with their constituents. Meanwhile, a “Committee of Five” — with Thomas Jefferson as lead penman — was tasked with drafting a formal declaration, which was presented for review on June 28. Congress then reconvened on July 1 to resume debate on Lee’s Resolution. The next day, July 2, they formally adopted the resolution for independence, with 12 of the 13 colonies voting in favor. (Still-hesitant New York abstained.) The day after that, John Adams wrote the following to his wife, Abigail, about the momentous occasion:
“… 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.”
Of course, we now know that it was July 4th, when the 2nd Continental Congress formally adopted the final draft of the Declaration of Independence, that became historically celebrated. But, Adams got pretty much all the rest of it correct, even if the celebratory specifics have been modified over time and vary from place to place.
Despite later claims by Adams, Benjamin Franklin, and Thomas Jefferson that they signed the document on July 4, most historians agree that this was false. New York’s delegates finally gave their official support to the Declaration of Independence on July 7, after receiving authorization from their home assembly. But, it wasn’t until August 2, after the Declaration had been copied in clear handwriting onto parchment, that most of the 56 signatories signed the official document. (A few held out until a later date, and two never signed at all.) Thus marks the formal and auspicious birth of the great “American Experiment” that continues even today.
Now, we don’t claim to be a perfect nation or to consistently actualize our founding principles. Our nation and our government will never be perfect. It never can be, because ‘We The People’ are imperfect. But, what we have done for the good, domestically and around the world, over the past 239 years has been truly amazing and unmatched in blood and treasure. It is easy to get caught up in the politics and the various worldview battles evidenced by daily headlines. But, although we are under assault from without and within, I firmly believe that the U.S.A. is still the greatest, most exceptional nation that has ever been. I, for one, am Proud to be an American!
That said, I invite you to follow this link to a video of country music legend Lee Greenwood, backed up by the Jay Sekulow Band, performing Greenwood’s beloved tribute to America, “God Bless the U.S.A.”. Enjoy!