The First Independence Day

by Tamera Lynn Kraft
On June 7th, 1776, Richard Henry Lee, representative from Virginia, made a resolution in the Continental Congress. He proposed, “Resolved: That these United Colonies are, and of right ought to be, free and independent States, that they are absolved from all allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political connection between them and the State of Great Britain is, and ought to be, totally dissolved.”

The resolution was postponed until July 1st to give the delegates a chance to convince the colonies of New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Delaware, Maryland and South Carolina to vote yes on the resolution.

On June 11th, Congress commission five men to write a declaration listing grievances against the king of England and to declare the United States of America to be an independent nation. Those five men were Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Franklin, John Adams, Roger Sherman, and Robert R. Livingston. Thomas Jefferson was considered the most elegant writer of the five and was elected to write the document. He finished it on June 28th, and it was submitted for review.

On July 1st, debate on Lee’s resolution began. The Congress decided that any resolution for independence should be unanimous, and the vote was postponed a day. The next day, the resolution was passed with every state but New York voted yes. New York abstained from the vote.

John Adams was sure July 2nd would be known as Independence Day. He write to his wife, “The Second Day of July 1776, will be the most memorable Epocha, in the History of America.—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.”

The Declaration of Independence was accepted on July 4th. Later that evening, the liberty bell rang out in celebration. 200 copies were ordered to be made called the Dunlap Broadsides. The first real Independence Day celebration that year took place on July 8th when the document was read in the square in Philadelphia. A few days later, it was read to General Washington’s troops.

The next year, the day was celebrated with picnics and fireworks, a tradition that continues to this day.

Congress established Independence Day as a holiday in 1870, but it didn’t become a legal federal holiday until 1941 when Congress passed the law. Even before the law was passed, Adam’s vision of Independence Day became a reality every year since our Independence was declared.

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10 Reasons the USA Should be Celebrated

by Tamera Lynn Kraft

The United States of America has a unique history and heritage that most other nations haven’t shared. Whether you call it exceptionalism or something else, America is special and should be celebrated for its differences. At this time in history, we are divided as a nation in a way we haven’t been since the Civil War, yet I believe America will survive and thrive. Here are some of the things to be proud of this 4th of July.

The United States was birthed out of a revival. While other nations’ origins were born out of class warfare, overthrowing dictators, and bloody overthrows, America fought a civilized Revolutionary War in comparison. A few years earlier, men like Jonathan Edwards, George Whitefield, and the Wesley brothers had led the colonies into a untied nation under God during the First Great Awakening. Our founding fathers were affected by this revival and many were strong Christians. The day of the vote on Independence, the Continental Congress all got on their knees and prayed for God’s guidance.

The United States First Amendment guarantees the rights to freedom of speech, freedom of religion, freedom of press, and freedom of assembly. This amendment has been assaulted in recent years, but it is the bedrock of why we remain a free society.

The United States has a peaceful transfer of power. Other nations also have this, but many don’t. We are guaranteed that every four years there will be an honest election and the leaders will abide by the will of the people whether they like it or not. It doesn’t matter if you like this president or the last one, you can rest easy that there will not be a coup. The Constitution put this in play, but it was initiated before that when our first president, George Washington, refused to become king.

The United States is a democratic republic. Many people don’t understand this or believe the USA is a democracy. We are a democracy, but we are also a republic. That means that although leaders are chosen by majority vote, we don’t have mob rule. Every person, every minority, is represented and protected.

The United States has a balance of powers. Our government moves slowly because of this, but it essential to our form of government and prevents dictatorship. When it works correctly, the Congress makes the laws, the President enforces the laws, and the Supreme Court interprets the laws. The US Constitution is above every branch of the government and has kept us from straying from our origins.

The United States is the strongest nation on Earth. When it comes to military power, financial power, and innovation, the US is the strongest nation. We could use that strength to conquer, but instead, we use that strength to protect and serve.

The United States has benefitted the quality of life everywhere. Because of the structure of freedom in our DNA, the US has been a leader in industry, medicine, innovation, creativity, and innovation. We gave the world electric lights, movies, computers, and airplanes. We were the only nation to put a human being on the moon. Our scientists are some of the best in the world.

The United States has the best medical treatment in the world. While debates are going on in Congress about medical insurance, remember how medical technology and innovation is stronger in the US than any other country. People who can afford it come to the US for medical treatment. We have shared that technology with other nations and have been instrumental in the fight against aides, ebola, and other epidemics.

The United States learns from its mistakes. America isn’t perfect, but no nation is. We have made mistakes. Slavery, prejudice, and our treatment of indigenous people are some of them. Yet with each generation, we strive to learn from the mistakes of the past and correct them.

The United States is great because it is good. In the 1800s, Alexis de Tocqueville toured America and said, “America is great because she is good. If America ceases to be good, America will cease to be great.” While this statement is being worn thin, America is still good in many ways. America and Americans go overseas every year to help people in other nations. We give more money and man power to help in natural disasters than any other nation. Missionaries all over the world feed the hungry, cloth the poor, treat the sick, and care for orphans. In this country, when we become aware of a need, there is an outpouring to meet it. Not everyone in America is good, but there is a remnant that is still good.

For these reasons and more, America has been a beacon of hope drawing people from all over the world. We have reason to be proud to be Americans, so let’s celebrate.

Tips on Celebrating the Fourth!

by Carole Brown

A summer celebration time that combines fun and patriotism, for kids and adults, with activities and more serious contemplation. Here’s some thoughts on experiencing all this with your family.

  1. Display the American flag. Allow children to attach one to their bike or scooter. Display one from your house or garden. String a row (banner) of flags around the yard for a party.american-flag-free
  2. Obtain a copy of the constitution and read it to your children or family. Discuss it with your family. Explain details not understood. This is an important part of our country’s history. constitution free
  3. Dress up patriotically. Wear clothes that have the U.S. flag design on them, or clothing shoes freechoose to wear the red, white and blue. You can have a lot of fun trying to look as patriotic as possible using just these colors.
    • Have someone to draw the flag on your cheek or hand with washable finger paintpainted flag on hand free
    • Wear a flag pin on your clothes
    • Paint the US flag on your nails
  4. Watch a local 4th of July parade in your community or city. Get into the parade spirit by waving back at the participants or clapping as U.S. veterans pass by.parade cartoon free
  5. Enjoy a barbecue or picnic with family or friends. Get together around at least 1 pm or so to spend the afternoon together. Enjoy the foods of your choice but don’t forget the traditional fourth foods like hamburgers, hot dogs, watermelon and an American flag cake.Independence day cake free
  6. Travel. Both on the fourth of July and the days around it, there will be a number of festivities, fireworks displays, and other fun you can join in depending on where you live. If you’re traveling, check on the suggestions below for a festive time with family and friends 
    • Boston has six days of celebrations: Take a hike along Boston’s Freedom Trail, watch the annual turning of the USS Constitution, attend Chowderfest, watch the reading of the Declaration of Independence from the balcony of the Old State House, and enjoy the annual Boston Harborfest. And there is the holiday concert by the Boston Pops at night plus fireworks.
    • Philadelphia‘s festivities last for around a week. Visit the Liberty Bell, see the historic sites in Independence Mall, and enjoy the 4th of July parade and fireworks.
    • In Washington D.C., you can watch the National Independence Day Parade on Constitution Avenue and enjoy the fireworks displays above Washington Monument and the Capitol while at the grounds for the popular and nationally televised A Capitol Fourth, broadcast on PBS and AFN Television.
    • Visit Valley Forge National Park.
    • Mount Rushmore is a great place to celebrate. You can see the fireworks and mount-rushmore-freeother commemorative events. 
    • In San Diego, head for Mission and Pacific beaches and watch the fireworks after dark.
    • In New York, make sure to attend the Macy’s 4th of July Spectacular event, with live music from the US Air Force Band and Orchestra, fireworks and performances by US artists. Or visit the National 9/11 Museum at the Ground Zero site to honor the victims of 9/11 and the armed forces fallen of recent conflicts. 
    • And don’t forget your smaller town celebrations. Heartfelt and interesting, you’ll find many things to do there too!

         7. Make crafts for Independence Day. If you have children, it’s an ideal time topins stars patriotic free

             make crafts together to celebrate the day. Check Pinterest or other online places                  for suggestions and ideas.

  • Make an American Flag Lapel Pin.
  • Make a Homemade Paper Weight and paint it with patriotic designs and colors.
  • Make a homemade card and use a patriotic theme and colors to design the cover and contents.
  • Make a yarn wreath using patriotic yarn colors.
  • Make glowing star lamp in patriotic colors and hang up at your celebratory party.

         8.  Enjoy the fireworks! It’s an awesome time to spend with family and friends.fireworks

Have a wonderful and safe holiday!