The Fourth of July, also known as Independence Day has been a federal holiday in the United States since 1941. But the tradition of Independence Day celebrations goes back to the 18th century and the American Revolution (1775-83). In June 1776, representatives of the 13 colonies then fighting in the revolutionary struggle weighed a resolution that would declare their independence from Great Britain. On July 2nd, the Continental Congress voted in favor of independence, and two days later its delegates adopted the Declaration of Independence, a historic document drafted by Thomas Jefferson. From 1776 until the present day, July 4th has been celebrated as the birth of American independence, with typical festivities ranging from fireworks, parades and concerts to more casual family gatherings and barbecues (www.history.com).
Last year, when I wrote my blog for this day, our country was in the middle of a very difficult presidential election cycle. My hope was that things would settle down, people would unite and move forward together. Unfortunately, political battles rage on and there remains a lack of cooperation both at the local and national levels.
We live in an amazing country. We are free to speak our minds and not be thrown in jail for our thoughts. But freedom and independence must be accompanied by responsibility. We cannot just shoot at congressman we don’t like. We can disagree with policy. But we must behave with respect. Our forefathers gave us an amazing gift. Many forget that in other countries you are guilty until proven innocent, that you can be arrested and held for little if any reason, that protesters are jailed and that your opinion or vote don’t matter.We often take our freedoms for granted.
I, personally, am very proud to be an American. This remains a wonderful country filled with a lot of people who do so much good. Last week, Major League Baseball umpire, John Trumpane, on his way back from a run and lunch saw a woman climb over a railing on the Roberto Clemente Bridge. He didn’t hesitate. He put his arm around her and quietly kept her safe until more help arrived. He saved her life. This is only one of many stories we sometimes miss hearing about. We need to think about and share these types of stories. They bond us as human beings, rather than divide us because of some political views.
My hope this 4th of July is that we all stop to appreciate our freedoms, to recognize that many others are less fortunate and that we all do our part to figure out how we can do something for our families, friends and country to promote respect and dignity for all.