Few people recognize the real meaning behind the “Fourth of July,” which is also called Independence Day –– in reference to the Declaration of Independence, which most everybody believes is the name of a document signed by our founding fathers on July 4, 1776.
There is no document with the title “Declaration of Independence.” It is a descriptive term instead. The document dated July 4, 1776 is actually entitled “The Unanimous Declaration of the Thirteen United States of America.”
The American Revolution started in April 1775. Each of the 13 colonies sent representatives to the Continental Congress to unify their rebellious efforts against their sovereign, Great Britain.
On June 7, 1776, a resolution was introduced in the Continental Congress to “absolve all allegiance to the British Crown.” On July 2, 1776, 12 of the colonies voted to adopt the resolution that declared independence from the crown (New York did not vote).
Thomas Jefferson is credited with drafting the document, whose final wording was approved on July 4, 1776 by nine of the colonies (nine voted in favor, Pennsylvania and South Carolina voted no, Delaware was undecided, and New York abstained).
The document we commonly call our Declaration of Independence was not delivered to the British government until November 1776. In August of 1776, all of the fancy signatures at the bottom were added.
Our Founding Fathers tried unsuccessfully to promote several dates other than July 4 as the “birth of our country.” It was popular acclaim that locked July 4 as the all-important date.
What did our “Declaration of Independence” do? It was a formal declaration of rebellion (and war) against our sovereign, with a long list of grievances to try to justify our Founding Fathers’ treasonous acts. Every individual that signed the document was, in effect. signing their own death warrant. They would have all topped Scotland Yard’s most wanted list in the post offices.
The “United States” won the war, so we wrote the history books and became the good guys after all. (The British history books tell a somewhat different story).
The really important thing here is the dedication, resolution and commitment made by our Founding Fathers. It is not much different from Christians thrown to the lions in ancient Rome, just because they would not renounce their religion.
Pregnant women have frequently chosen to give birth knowing that they face certain death if they do not abort.
Soldiers have thrown their bodies upon live grenades so that the rest of their squad will live.
Fathers have rushed into a burning or collapsing building in a hopeless effort to save a child.
Secret Service agents will use their bodies to block bullets meant for the president.
Soldiers and elected officials all give oaths to support and defend our the Constitution and laws. A soldier’s oath surrenders all choice to their commanders as to how their lives will be spent for their county’s principles (and politicians’ whims).
From their antics, it sometimes appears that elected officials may have no principles at all. It calls to question what principles are important enough, now, for modern man to commit his very life.
These days, Islamic extremists are frequently strapping on explosive vests and casting their vote by pressing a button. There must be something better.
The Fourth of July commemorates our Founding Fathers’ choice that placed their necks in a noose, all for the principle that our country be free from a tyrannical government.
We are celebrating 238 years since our country’s independence, and 100 years since the start of what was then called “The War to End All Wars.” There is no better time to look within, and determine what principles you find just as important, so important that you would spend your life on their behalf.
If you can identify something, drop me a note at firstname.lastname@example.org. There may be a future story.