The Fourth of July has become a holiday of family, fun and fireworks with American children wearing the scent of gunpowder as a badge of courage from their “cherry bomb” exploits and adults charcoaling, chilling and chattering their paid holiday away. But in 1776, badges of courage earned with gun powder carried a very different meaning..
On June 7 of that year Richard Henry Lee made this statement to the Second Continental Congress: “These united colonies are, and of right ought to be, free and independent states.” Those words would reverberate through history by the actions of men and women who would set the standards for what it takes to become and remain a free nation.
For those newly self-proclaimed Americans, that tumultuous time in our history was not a season of celebration, but of hardship, sacrifice and war stemming from England’s tyranny, greed and refusal to compromise. That day and the many hot, stifling, muggy days which preceeded Lee’s statement were filled with debate and disagreement with only the disdain for the colony’s treatment to be a common bond.
Many of those men were away from their families, friends and farms in the sweltering summer heat offering their efforts, without the benefit of precedent, to change their contempt for England into a defining new type of freedom.
This was done in the hopes of securing a future where all could be free from tyranny and fear.
It was an idea that a unified people could share the sentiment that freedom belongs to all and to practice that belief by allowing fear, no matter how great or how small, to ever rule over us again.
Through the sacrifice and willingness to believe in life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness for all by these first Americans, these Founding Fathers gave us more than a holiday once a year, they gave us the right to declare our independence every single day.