Independence Day 2010 is sure to be met with truckloads of fireworks, coolers of ice-cold drinks and s’mores galore. There are parades, picnics and politics sure to be practiced. But through all the noise and chaos of the festivities, do people really remember what the Fourth of July is meant to celebrate?
Independence is certainly the name of the day, but how many know or remember the ins and outs of the country’s declared autonomy, and its implications?
The vote for independence actually took place on July 2, 1776 while the Declaration of Independence was approved by Congress on July 4, and widely signed on August 2 of the same year. But what exactly did passing the Declaration do? It declared the future United States’ independence from Great Britain, for one. It also resigned the colonists to years of war and hardships to gain their freedom, and meant the decimation of loyalty and trust among citizens. While Americans now celebrate with food and fanfare, colonists were gearing up for the fight of their lives and livelihoods, the punishment for failure being a traitor’s death.
So when folks celebrate now, is it really about saying “happy birthday” to America, about celebrating the birth of a nation with fanfare and fun, or is it about honoring our forefathers and mothers for having the strength and courage to take a stand against tyranny? One would hope it’s a little bit of both.
The sounds of the Fourth of July should remind observers of the cracks of musket fire, the booms of mortars and cannons, while the spectacular colors should conjure the images of the blood shed by Patriots. The red, white and blue colors of fireworks should signify valor, purity and justice to observers, for those are what the colors are meant to represent according to the Great Seal of the United States.
Gathering together with family and friends can and should be a part of Independence Day celebrations, as it took entire families of patriotic colonists to make the United States what it is today. And if families want to include their own traditions, whether it be with barbeques, picnics, and a variety of fireworks, then they should. After all, thanks to Independence Day, they have the freedom to do so.