I made the decision to try and post on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. It just so happens that this Monday (the first Monday – how appropriate) falls on a holiday. In case you weren’t aware or don’t practice it, it’s Independence Day for the next two hours.
I must warn you that prior to reading this, you should prepare yourself to be shocked and/or disgusted.
Although I knew the basics of what this day celebrates, I only knew it in the most distant terms. Oh I’m sure I was taught it’s meaning at some point; I did go to American schools. However, I was apparently either too young or too uncaring to really grasp its message. Or too stoned; I made really poor decisions in high school, clearly. Decisions that I can say with total authority are not worth making. In case I didn’t make that clear: I no longer do this and have not for over a decade. It was something that I have come to regret. I feel like I may have digressed a little here. Anyway…
I knew it was about freedom, of course. If Martina McBride taught me anything it was that. I knew it was about having get togethers and parents having the day off of work. I knew it was about fireworks and food – Lord, lots of food. Lots of fattening foods.
I always associated it with soldiers and battlefields and war. I know that freedom isn’t free and people did sacrifice for it. It’s a sacrifice that I will always be deeply moved by. In this case, no matter how our independence came about, we celebrate this day as the day the Declaration of Independence was signed. It was America declaring its independence from Britain.
Yes, I am a college educated woman and mother of two who never really understood that. Laugh, shake your heads, unfollow this blog – wait, no, don’t do that. Do the first two if you must, but also realize that although I knew and know the importance of those documents and that they are associated with this day, I just thought they were talked about due more to patriotism and the foundation of our country.
It’s so easy for us to associate it with war and soldiers and battles only. In fact, I was going to put up images of military personnel that I knew to honor them. While I still honor them, this day is not about them directly. It’s about a nation coming together on a united front to decide their own course without bloodshed. To, well, declare their independence. I am certain that there were disagreements drawing up the Declaration of Independence (oh to be a fly on that 1776 wall) because they were as much human as we are. So I am not saying they were instantly unanimous. I’m saying they used the democratic process that would define our nation. They believed in its rightness, its goodness. Each one of the men below signed it because they believed in what they were doing.
The second paragraph of the Declaration of Independence states:
“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness.”
Somewhere along the line we lost sight of that, or maybe we never knew it to begin with. So many celebrate our victories on the battlefields on this day, but today isn’t about the violence or the destruction of war itself. It’s not about the victories and triumphs of war itself. Today is a celebration of peace. A celebration of strength in men. A celebration of liberty and justice for all. I am not such a “stupid American” to think that line comes from this document; I am aware that it comes from the Pledge of Allegiance. It’s still relevant.
That is why we celebrate this day. That is what makes this day so monumental; a day we were fully our own. Also, John Adams totally gave us the okay (back on July 2, 1776) to celebrate this holiday with gorging on amazing food, throwing parades, a general rokus and obnoxious fireworks.
So that’s what we did for three days. What can I say? We live big. Now that my children are no longer screaming for water or hand holding or blankets or stuffed animals or that their sister is throwing everything out of their crib, I can only breath a sigh (oh man it’s a big one and a happy one) of relief and properly figure out what this holiday is all about.
If you want to learn more from an always 100% reliable source, head on over here. There’s always Google too.
Happy Independence Day, ya’ll! Go tell someone how much you learned over here on Unfailing Grace.