MILLEDGEVILLE — This weekend, fireworks will continue to light up the evening skies, families and friends will gather, and food and music will be focal points at many functions as Americans mark the July Fourth holiday period. Amid all the revelry, let us not forget the true purpose of this holiday — a celebration of our nation’s independence.
Two hundred thirty-eight years ago, our nation’s forefathers drafted and adopted a document declaring independence from the Kingdom of Great Britain. Since that time, the day has most commonly been associated with fireworks, parades, barbecues and ceremonies, but the promise — and potential — of the living, breathing document remains.
While the words of this document have been analyzed, debated, defined and re-defined over the centuries since, the underlying notions regarding our rights and freedoms as Americans still speak loudly to all of us. Its purpose has expanded through hard-fought battles for inclusiveness: “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,” it reads in part.
This weekend, let us not forget that while we are far from perfect, our independence and our democratic process make it possible for us to enjoy our way of life and give us the freedoms to openly acknowledge our shortcomings and imperfections. Let us also be reminded of those who have worked, taken risks, fought and continue to do so in order to make our way of life possible.
And yes, let us also celebrate our freedoms. As John Adams wrote to his wife Abigail upon the signing of the Declaration of Independence, this day “ought to be solemnized with pomp and parade, with shows, games, sports, guns, bells, bonfires, and illuminations, from one end of this continent to the other, from this time forward forever more.”
Happy 238th birthday America.