I started to write this blog post about what Independence Day, the Fourth of July, meant to me. But, I changed my mind. Independence Day only means one thing and it should mean the same thing to all of us. This day, the Fourth of July, Independence Day, marks the birth of the United State of America. Our independence from Great Britain in 1776.
When the Founding Fathers signed the Declaration of Independence, written by Thomas Jefferson, in Philadelphia, they knew that Great Britain would certainly take issue with the American colonies breaking away from their mother country. They knew they were effectively declaring war. They knew that the American colonies did not have the numbers of people or weapons to fight off the British. They had faith that they would, somehow, prevail.
Four days later, the real celebration began. The Continental Congress was still meeting. The Declaration of Independence was read. The Liberty Bell rang. The coat of arms of the King of England was taken down and the celebration began. The United States of America came to life.
What followed was the American Revolutionary War between the 13 colonies and the British Crown. It lasted through approximately 1783 and was a bitter and bloody battle. The French entered the war in 1778 and assisted the Americans. By 1781, the Americans had basically won their freedom. On September 3, 1783, in France, the British recognized that the Americans had won their freedom in the Treaty of Paris.
The British set sail for America. Our freedom was hard won by hard scrabble colonists against professional British soldiers more than 200 years ago. We became a republic, a democracy, then, and have been a shining example of hard-won freedom since. We’re reminded on this day, the Fourth of July, how hard those colonists fought and under what terrible circumstances. Many of us in America have ancestors that fought in that war, myself included. We have a stake in America’s freedom. We should celebrate this day and be sure that America beats the standard that democracies usually don’t last more than 200 years.
Happy Fourth of July to all of you in the United States of America!