By Gino Blefari
This week my travels find me at home, starting Monday with my typical WIG calls. On Tuesday, I participated in the early morning Berkshire Hathaway Energy call then hopped on a flight to New Jersey to attend a company event for Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices New Jersey Properties. On Wednesday, I was in New Jersey meeting with the team – thank you to New Jersey Properties Chairman and CEO Bill Keheler, President Chris Brown and Chief Operating Officer Steve Jannett for your amazing hospitality. The event was electric!
And speaking of sparks, this weekend marks the start of July Fourth celebrations and it’s a time of the year that makes me feel like a kid again.
As a way to get to know team members, I have a series of 18 questions that I ask team members and in turn, they ask me. One of those questions is: “What’s a memory from childhood that stands out?”
My answer is always the same: July Fourth.
Growing up, I lived on a cul-de-sac and during July Fourth, the entire cul-de-sac (about 10 neighborhood families) would gather. They’d all chip in to buy fireworks and we’d have a big potluck BBQ in the middle of the street. Each family brought their own meat to BBQ and potluck dishes – baked beans, a salad, desert – for everyone to enjoy. After we devoured a delectable summer meal, we’d set off the fireworks and celebrate the Fourth of July.
Even just writing about those childhood BBQs right now makes me smile.
But I don’t just love July Fourth for its youthful nostalgia. I also love it because it’s a celebration of teamwork coming together for the greater good.
Imagine we’re not in 2022 but in 1776. Most of the 13 colonies have been in existence for more than 150 years. There’s a strong middle-class economy in development made up of farmers, artisans, lawyers and tradespeople. Everyone travels by horse-drawn carriages. Food is prepared by the heat of a wood-burning fire. The American Revolution, which had begun in April 1775 was still raging and colonists were deeply passionate about winning their independence.
In June 1776, Thomas Jefferson sat down to pen the Declaration of Independence, and on July 2, the Continental Congress declared freedom from Great Britain. And on August 2, 1776, the Declaration of Independence was signed.
So, if the document was written in June, declared July 2nd (not 4th) and signed in August, what are we celebrating on July 4?
After independence was declared, the Continental Congress needed a document to explain to the public what had happened. A smaller committee proposed the draft on July 2, and it took two days for the wording of the Declaration of Independence to be approved. With that consent, the completed document was sent to a printer named John Dunlap, who printed 200 copies of the document. When the printed copies of the Declaration of Independence were distributed, the date on the document said July 4, 1776.
So, what’s the message? July 4th is of course a celebration of America’s independence but on another level, it’s a time to look back on what teamwork can achieve. Had the Continental Congress not been able to come to an agreement that the document was complete, had there been less synergy, less positive culture and less collaboration between them, the date of our independence might have been different – if it even happened at all. This weekend, although I’m not back on my old cul-de-sac enjoying the deliciously smoky taste of just-barbecued steaks, I will be with my family and friends, thinking about our country and the team that instilled the ideal of a nation where freedom should always ring.
Happy Fourth of July!