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Monday, July 2, 2012

What Does Independence Day Mean to You?

By Mrs. G

My husband I were watching one of those cable shows about antiques when a gentleman presented a rifle that surprised everyone. They discovered it was made in 1776. Oh! That was the year of our Independence! Technically the rifle was a musket, but what a piece of Americana he had!

I decided I need to brush up on my history, specifically Independence Day, to remind me of why we celebrate. This also made me want to re-read the Declaration of Independence since, ahem, it had been a while. So, I am sharing my journey of learning with you!

1776 is the official beginning of our nationhood, with the Declaration of Independence being signed by Congress on July 4, 1776. Of course the official date has been disputed. This document announced that the thirteen American colonies regarded themselves as independent states and were no longer part of the British Empire. The thirteen colonies included Province of New Hampshire (New Hampshire), Province of Massachusetts Bay (Massachusetts and Maine), Colony of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations (Rhode Island), Connecticut Colony (Connecticut), Province of New York (New York and Vermont), Province of New Jersey (New Jersey), Province of Pennsylvania (Pennsylvania), Province of Maryland (Maryland), Colony of Dominion of Virginia (Virginia, Kentucky and West Virginia), Province of North Carolina (North Carolina and Tennessee), Province of South Carolina (South Carolina) and Province of Georgia (Georgia and sections of Alabama and Mississippi).

The original handwritten Declaration of Independence was lost, but an original copy is what is on display at the National Archives in Washington, D.C. All other copies have been derived from this original copy document.

One of the best known sentences in the English language comes from the Declaration of Independence:

“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.”

Pretty powerful stuff.

The Declaration of Independence also includes a list of charges against King George III, including cutting off colony trade with all parts of the world, Quartering large bodies of troops against colonies, depriving colonies of the benefits of Trial by Jury, and the most famous of all, imposing taxes without consent.

It has been said King George III suffered from recurrent and eventually permanent mental illness. He is often remembered as “The Mad King” and the “King Who Lost America”.

236 Years later, what does Independence Day mean to you? What American ideals do you hold dear? What do you think makes this country great?

1 comment:

  1. To me Independence Day is a day to celebrate our freedom and honor our veterans and those who are currently serving our country. I'm very grateful that I'm an American. I can't image living in any other country.