By Gino Blefari
This week I have the 4th of July on my mind, a holiday always spent grilling with my family and watching fireworks light up the summer sky. It’s my favorite time of year, with a rich history as compelling as the patriotic celebration itself.
On July 4, 1776, many of the 13 colonies had been in existence more than 150 years and a strong, middle-class economy was developing from the likes of farmers, artisans, lawyers and tradesmen. In 1776, people traveled by horse-drawn carriages; food was cooked over wood-burning fires. The American Revolution was already underway (it began April 1775) and the hunger for independence was burning in the hearts and minds of freedom-seeking colonists. Our independence had been declared on July 2 and the Declaration of Independence had been written by Thomas Jefferson almost a month before (and wouldn’t be signed until a month later on August 2, 1776).
Then, you may ask, what are we really commemorating on July 4 if not the start of the Revolution or the drafting of the document that would become the very foundation of our United States?
Here’s what actually happened on July 4: The Continental Congress approved the wording of the Declaration of Independence.
The draft had been submitted several days prior and on July 4, the Continental Congress collectively gave their consent that the document was complete. When printed copies of the Declaration of Independence were later circulated throughout a brand-new America, the date on each copy read July 4.
So, what’s the message? On July 4 we’re celebrating the birth of our great country, and all the independence and liberty that milestone entails. Yet, on another level, we’re also celebrating a brilliant team—our Founding Fathers—whose collective wisdom and accord brought about widespread, lasting change. It’s no small feat and one we should pay homage to as we watch fireworks with our families on Saturday night, recalling that it was exactly 239 years ago that our Founding Fathers agreed upon the self-evident truths that would ultimately set us free.