It’s July 4th. In fact, in many people’s minds, it’s simply “The 4th.” I sometimes wonder if any of our youth even know the actual name of this holiday – or understand why we celebrate it.
On that July 4 back in 1776, a comparatively small group of men gathered. After serious and lengthy debate, they decided to declare that the people living in this “country” were an independent nation. While many of the citizens rejoiced at the news, there were others for whom this news was quite unwelcome. I’m sure there were many people who realized that the declaration of independence did not make it so. I’m sure many anticipated the long fight that would result.
I am not an expert on history or holiday celebrations. But I do know that we, as a culture, have changed significantly since 1776. In those days, a celebration meant going to church to thank God for His gifts. It may have included speeches or sermons about the responsibilities of citizens. It would have been a religious and patriotic day. Might it have included a picnic or a meal? I suppose. But the focus would have been on the meaning of the day.
So what is Independence Day in this day and age? It’s become much more and in doing so, become less as well. What do we have? A day off from work. Cookouts and picnics. Days at the beach or in the mountains. Big sales in the stores. Fireworks. Vacations. A excuse to drink. Parades.
While people are doing all those things, are they thinking about what being free means and those who fought and died to give us the ability to do all those things? I can’t say nobody will – but I can say, from my experiences, that most folks think of the day in terms of themselves and the fun they can have. Fun – we seem to take that as one of our Rights. I don’t recall reading that term in the Declaration of Independence. The pursuit of happiness, yes. But happiness is very different from fun.
I wonder what our Founding Fathers would think if they could see us today.