What 4th of July is all about
Alex's First Birthday
A shared birthday
Alex William was born on the Fourth of July. His birth was celebrated with the highest of honors: a display of the most spectacular fireworks that snapped, crackled and popped. We stood at the large picture window in the hospital taking turns holding the little firecracker, as we watched the sky light up with green, red, blue and yellow.
His birthday will not be one that will be forgotten. He shares it with our country’s official date of birth: July 4, 1776. Although our country is over two centuries old, it is still considered a young nation and it was a much more difficult birth back in the eighteenth century in comparison to Alex’s entry into the world.
A brief history of the U.S. Independence Day
As the American Revolution raged on, it became evident that the American people had the tenacity to fight for the freedom to be separate from British government. But, not everyone agreed with the break from the monarchy and colonists found themselves pitted against their neighbors, not knowing who to trust-Loyalists, (for British rule), against Patriots, (or Freedom Fighters), and Patriots against the British soldiers.
Although the war did not end until 1781, and the Treaty of Paris was not signed until 2 years later, (in 1783), the Declaration of Independence was created as a statement of allegiance to their new territory and claiming severance of all ties with the British Empire. The document was drafted by a core committee of five prominent, political figures.
Predominately written by Thomas Jefferson, the document explained the grievances the colonists had with Great Britain and supported their drive for secession. Once drafted, the document was given the nod of approval by the Continental Congress on July 2, but with suggestions for changes. When the changes were finalized, the document was fully received on July 4, 1776.
The Declaration of Independence most quoted lines
Housed in the National Archives in Washington DC, the Declaration of Independence is a historical document filled with details of the grievances that the settlers had with their home government, specific to what was happening to them in the eighteenth century. However, the most famous and most quoted lines that the average person recognizes are the following:
“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.”
These words are the foundation in which our nation was developed. We value the meaning behind the words, and our pages of history have shown the consequences when these truths have not been honored. More than once, we have fought with, and against, each other in battle defending our rights as we have interpreted them through this powerful document.
As we celebrate July 4th in our own backyards, in our towns and states, individually and collectively, it is important to give pause to the significance of the day. More than a BBQ with family and friends, sparklers for the kids, and fireworks that brighten a darkened sky, it is about the truth of a belief that was led by a core group of people, our ancestors. The bravery that these men and women exhibited set precedence for all of us to hold true to our beliefs.
*Modern discoveries of the Declaration of Independence
On Friday, July 2, 2010, using a high tech method of photography to uncover what was beneath the smudged document of the original Declaration of Independence draft, research analysts discovered a critical error that was made, and corrected, by Thomas Jefferson.
According to librarian, James Billington, of the U.S. Library of Congress; the document was removed from the oxygen free vault for a scrutinizing examination of the ‘smudges’ that were left on the original draft. The Declaration of Independence was last removed 15 years ago.
Research chemist, Fenalla France, examined the smudges with a high resolution imaging process, and this smudge in particular caught her attention. The exam revealed that one of the smudges had initially been the word ‘subjects’ and was wiped away in exchange for the word, ‘citizens’. The word ‘subjects’ is a word typically used in a monarch government, and would have been appropriate had it not been for the colonists pull to break from the British rule. The decisive crossroad that Jefferson faced was to firmly establish this independent nation, and his rewording is felt to have been a pivotal moment in history.
A special celebration
Historical July 4th Births and Deaths
Do you ever wonder who shares your birth date? On this historical day, Alex William shares his birthday with a number of prominent people. And, not the least among them is President Obama’s eldest daughter, Malia, born in 1998. Coincidentally, three of our past Presidents died on the 4th of July, two on the exact same date. Here is a partial list of the famous:
1804 Nathaniel Hawthorne-author: The Scarlett Letter.
1826 Stephen Foster-songwriter: The Campdown Races; Oh, Susannah, and more.
1847 James Bailey-founder of the Bailey Circus.
1872 Calvin Coolidge-30th U.S. President.
1881 Ulysses S. Grant III-American soldier and grandson of General U.S. Grant.
1900 Louis Armstrong-jazz musician.
1918 Ann Landers and Abigail Van Buren, (twin sisters),-advice columnists.
1924 Eva Marie Saint-actress: Hitchcock’s North by Northwest.
1927 Neil Simon-playwright: Barefoot in the Park, The Odd Couple, and more.
1929 Al Davis-owner of the Oakland Raiders.
1930 George Steinbrenner-owner of the New York Yankees.
1946 Ron Kovic-disabled V.N. war veteran.
1998 Malia Obama-daughter of President Obama.
1826 John Adams-second U.S. President.
1826 Thomas Jefferson-third U.S. President.
1831 James Monroe-fifth U.S. President.
Frayer, L., (3 July, 2010), “Goof appears in Declaration of Independence”. Accessed 3 July, 2010 from http://www.jefferson-made-slip-in-declaration-of-independence/19540941.