The Fourth of July is a holiday that most Americans celebrate for various reasons. The festivity may involve family, friends or public gatherings. Popular culture would have you believe that the gala is a birthday party for the country. Flags wave, bands march and bystanders cheer. The parades are pageants, visible spectacles for all to applaud and enjoy. After the confetti blows away, what is the meaning of the day? Commemoration of the Declaration of Independence should be the primary reason for the remembrance. Other than historically conscious traditionalists that understand the nature of the Republic, few perceive the real purpose of the founding of America.
Looking to the John Adams’ famous letter of July 3, 1776, to his wife Abigail will put the celebration into perspective. (exact text from his letter with his original spellings)
“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.” (The Book of Abigail and John: Selected Letters of the Adams Family, 1762-1784, Harvard University Press, 1975, 142).
The intention of the remembrance is to memorialize the Declaration of Independence. But the meaning of the word and certainly the idea of independence is routinely ignored and often purged from the gala. A party for the sake of enjoyment snubs the solemn legacy of the founders. Yet, those who rally their attention on patriotic fervor, make an even more profound error.
The basic distinction between establishing independence, which is a prime essential to live out liberty and nationalistic allegiance, risks a fundamental disconnect in the purpose of a consensual union. The American Revolution was fought against a monarchy that prohibited basic rights of all Englishmen. The original thirteen colonies sought to become independent states, no longer under the boot of George III and the British Crown. The goal for the rebellion was to gain self-government, for each colony and to establish a state sovereignty for each commonwealth. The union that evolved and formed after the Paris Peace Treaty of 1783, into the country known as the United States was a process separate from the crucial principle established in that accord. Note the following from this treaty in Article 1:
“His Brittanic Majesty acknowledges the said United States, viz., New Hampshire, Massachusetts Bay, Rhode Island and Providence Plantations, Connecticut, New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Maryland, Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina and Georgia, to be free sovereign and independent states, that he treats with them as such, and for himself, his heirs, and successors, relinquishes all claims to the government, propriety, and territorial rights of the same and every part thereof.”
The use of plural for states acknowledges that the fundamental right of sovereignty resides within each former colony. The meaning of aligning and forming a federal union of independent states is at the heart of the national celebration. Yet, this fact of history is lost to the political culture because it serves the interests of the internal despots that scrambled to replace the British King with their own form of domestic tyranny.
The miserable failure of the American experiment to be faithful to the principles of independence for the sake of national uniformity is self-evident. Only a charlatan would support the theft of autonomy for the aggrandizement of centralization. Only a scoundrel would seek to preserve and compel a failed marriage at the cost of inherent independence. And only a Judas traitor to the 1776 Revolution, conspire to impose their treason upon a free people.
Patriotism to betrayal by a federal government is worse than belief in a false cause. The coercion and power of absolutism has replaced the promise and hope of independence. So what will you celebrate on this day of observance, our true heritage or an odious despotism that pretends to be American? Independence requires the will and courage of our forbearers. The Concord Hymnby Ralph Waldo Emerson suggests a heritage worthy of homage.
By the rude bridge that arched the flood,
Their flag to April’s breeze unfurled,
Here once the embattled farmers stood,
And fired the shot heard round the world.
The foe long since in silence slept;
Alike the conqueror silent sleeps;
And Time the ruined bridge has swept
Down the dark stream which seaward creeps.
On this green bank, by this soft stream,
We set today a votive stone;
That memory may their deed redeem,
When, like our sires, our sons are gone.
Spirit that made those heroes dare
To die, and leave their children free,
Bid Time and Nature gently spare
The shaft we raise to them and thee.
Celebrate that which deserves to be venerated, shun that which deforms our indispensable values and noble aspirations. The Fourth of July is not a government anniversary. It is a time to remember that independence is the spirit and the soul of the nation. The fireworks are for as John Adams rightly affirms – a Day of Deliverance. That liberation from captivity is what we honor and so often forget. If you are incapable of understanding the distinction between the goal of liberty and the reality of tyranny, you should study your heritage on this solemn day.
You will find a wealth of information on the Fourth of July Celebrations Database. Display the original Betsy Ross flag and beware of the reasons that cause the fifty star forgery to be disgraced. The Meaning of Independence Day has not changed. Now, citizens who are oblivious to the national crisis just yearn for the intoxication of a never-ending party. What kind of an American are you, an original patriot or a government lackey? This day is yours if you know who you are and what you should be . . .