By Craig Gilman
Faculty Member at American Military University
What comes to mind with the date, July 4th? Parades, BBQ and fireworks are probably the first. Spending time with family, friends and community more than likely is a close second. For those who have been around the block more than once, history and heritage and the realization that as Americans we are fortunate in our freedom and liberties is another thought that comes to mind for the holiday. The latter is a wisdom that needs to be shared and taught to our younger generations. Let’s start with a little basic history.
On July 4, 1776, the Second Continental Congress, meeting in Philadelphia in the Pennsylvania State House (now Independence Hall), approved the Declaration of Independence, severing the colonies’ ties to the British Crown. Independent America was born, but no one expected to sleep through those first nights.
While all students know that the Declaration was signed on the fourth of July and understand the years’ worth of turmoil between those who wanted independence and those who wished to remain loyal to the crown, how many know Congress actually declared independence on July 2nd by adopting the Lee Resolution? Two days later, on July fourth, Congress adopted the Declaration of Independence.
We all know the primary author of the Declaration was none other than Thomas Jefferson, a Virginia delegate to the Congress, but how many others can you name? (To learn more, visit the Library of Congress webguide.) Each risked execution, should they be captured by the British, and each risked loss of all personal property, should the eminent war with Great Britain end badly for these men, our forefathers. The torch of freedom was lit, the first United States military was formed and lead by George Washington, our first president. Fortunately, the war was won, but not without the sacrifice of many. After all, freedom is not free.
Make July 4th memorable in 2015. Share this heritage and make it fun and meaningful for following generations. There are a number of ways Americans traditionally celebrate Independence Day. First and foremost, take the time to reflect, not only on the value of our independence and freedoms, but also the civic responsibilities and duties that go with them. Other ways to celebrate include:
- Properly and proudly display a United States flag
- Re-familiarize yourself with the Declaration of Independence
- Dress up patriotically in red, white and blue
- Make a patriotic craft with your children and discuss freedoms and responsibilities
- Show your community support by attending a local parade or fireworks display
- Consider the less fortunate
- Enjoy a barbeque with family, friends and neighbors
- Picnic in a local park or historical site
- Thank civil servants, such as first responders, veterans and members of the military
- Remember our Founding Fathers and their sacrifices
- Create a family tradition of Fourth of July
Celebrate safely and responsibly and have a great holiday.