Celebrating the Fourth: Reflecting on the holiday’s true meaning

MARQUETTE – On this day in 1776, Congress approved the final text of the Declaration Independence, breathing life into the new nation – the United States of America.

One of our founding fathers, John Adams, realized the significance of this event and the lasting effects it would have immediately, noted in a letter to his wife, Abigail.

“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.”

While Adams was off in his predication by two days, originally citing July 2, when independence was formally declared, the celebration continues 240 years later.

Parades wind through city streets, American flags fly proudly from millions of porches, posts and the hands of those dressed in red, white and blue, the smell of barbecues tantalize our taste buds and fireworks light up the skies.

While we are honoring Adams’ wishes in many ways, we are failing him in many others.

Our freedom is something we oftentimes take for granted. I know you’re probably rolling your eyes right now, as this is something you’ve heard time and time again.

But then again, most of us can agree.

In our day-to-day lives, we’re focused on what’s important right now. Finishing that report at work, picking up the kids from baseball practice or trying not to burn ourselves out with election fatigue. We’re not thinking about how the U.S. was able to separate itself from the British Empire in the 18th century.

But as we enjoy the company of our family and friends with the sun shining down from overhead, we need not forget why we’re here in the first place.

These celebrations are possible because many individuals believed our freedom was more important than their lives. Even now, in 2016, there are still millions around the world that are not afforded what is now known to us as a basic human right.

It is our responsibility to carry on the legacy of this country by passing on these bits of history to our future generations, while also celebrating them ourselves.

Whatever you choose to do today, try to carve out some time to think about the true meaning behind the stars and stripes.

Editor’s note: Kelsie Thompson can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 206. Her email address is kthompson@miningjournal.net.