CEO Message: July 4th honors this 'great nation of opportunity, promise and hope'
It was July 3, 1776. Two hundred and thirty-eight years ago today, John Adams wrote an exuberant letter to Abigail Adams, his much adored wife and sweetheart. The letter expressed his great satisfaction and delight that the Second Continental Congress had decided to declare their freedom from Great Britain and establish a new country in the “new world.”
In June the Second Continental Congress had appointed a Committee of Five to draft a statement in which the case for independence might be presented to the residents of the colonies and, for that matter, to all the countries of the world. Adams was on the committee, and their work had been presented to the Congress on July 2. On the cusp of independence, here is what a weary but triumphant John Adams wrote to Abigail, complete with archaic spellings and figures of speech:
“The Second Day of July 1776, will be the most memorable Epocha, in the History of America. I am apt to believe that it will be celebrated, by succeeding Generations, as the great anniversary Festival. It ought to be commemorated, as the Day of Deliverance by solemn Acts of Devotion to God Almighty. It ought to be solemnized with Pomp and Parade, with Shews, Games, Sports, Guns, Bells, Bonfires and Illuminations from one End of this Continent to the other from this Time forward forever more. You will think me transported with Enthusiasm but I am not. I am well aware of the Toil and Blood and Treasure, that it will cost Us to maintain this Declaration, and support and defend these States. Yet through all the Gloom I can see the Rays of ravishing Light and Glory. I can see that the End is more than worth all the Means. And that Posterity will tryumph in that Days Transaction, even altho We should rue it, which I trust in God We shall not.”
He was wrong about the date but not much else. The full Declaration was reworked and revised in general session prior to its adoption by the Continental Congress on July 4, 1776, and so July 4 became the date we celebrate as Independence Day.
Adams was right about the new republic, he was right about the course that had to be followed towards revolution and freedom, and he was right about how to celebrate the independence of the new nation. And we have taken his words to heart. Across the country this Independence Day we will find hundreds — make that thousands — of ways to celebrate.
It’s the very best day for a parade, and the family picnics and barbecues are plentiful. Baseball games can be found in communities across America. The parks and beaches will be filled with groups and families of every possible description. (Our emergency departments are especially busy on holidays like this.)
In a speech at the U.S. Capitol in 1831, Francis Scott Key, American lawyer and author of "The Star Spangled Banner,” put all this diverse celebrating into perspective and spoke about the reason for our activities: "The spectacle of a happy people, rejoicing in thankfulness before God and the world for the blessing of civil liberty, is no vain pageant."
I add my own voice of thankfulness and gratitude for this great nation of opportunity, promise and hope.
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