Independence Day, 2006
"The flames kindled on the 4th of July 1776, have spread over too much of the globe to be extinguished by the feeble engines of despotism; on the contrary, they will consume these engines and all who work them." --Thomas Jefferson
This site, created and hosted by the Independence Hall Association of Philadelphia, provides a wealth of historical information about the Declaration of Independence, including brief biographies of each of the signers, all of whom risked life and property as they took a stand for freedom.
Last year, I posted The American's Creed for Independence Day. For me, the words sum up the essence of what it means to be an American:
"I believe in the United States of America as a Government of the people, by the people, for the people, whose just powers are derived from the consent of the governed; a democracy in a Republic; a sovereign Nation of many sovereign States; a perfect Union, one and inseparable; established upon those principles of freedom, equality, justice, and humanity for which American patriots sacrificed their lives and fortunes. I therefore believe it is my duty to my Country to love it; to support its Constitution; to obey its laws; to respect its flag, and to defend it against all enemies."
America may not be perfect, and I do a fair amount of griping about the state of our nation. But I cannot imagine wanting to live anywhere else, nor can I imagine what life would be like without the freedoms we Americans have. We should not take our nation or our freedoms for granted!
On this Fourth of July, I again celebrate the ideals expressed in our Declaration of Independence and in The American's Creed. Those fireworks I'll be watching on the evening of July 4 represent something so much more important than a party-weekend. And since 9/11, I've come to value on a more personal level the meaning of Independence Day and the sacrifices of the patriots who came before me.
Since 9/11, I cry when I see those showers of sparkles as the fireworks bloom overhead. America has had to fight for her freedom time and again. And how close we came to possibly losing the backdrop of the Capitol Building for the annual celebration here, A Capitol Fourth! Perhaps that backdrop doesn't have the same significance for the rest of America, but for us locals, those exploding fireworks, with our monuments in the background, represent more than an awesome image.
Please take time out of your busy celebration of this year's Independence Day to turn on your speakers for John Wayne's America, Why I Love Her.
Have a safe Fourth of July, and don't forget the reason we celebrate!
(Illustration from A Capitol Fourth, as advertised by The Choral Arts Society of Washington)