There are many things we could say about this day honoring that remarkable Declaration of Independence signed by 56 courageous men gathered in Philadelphia on a hot summer’s day 237 years ago. However, on this day we will rely on the words of others with quotations from historic documents and well-known people that we hope you find inspiring. We know we do:
“When in the Course of human events it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation. ...”
Declaration of Independence
“Those who deny freedom to others deserve it not for themselves.”
“Let every nation know, whether it wishes us well or ill, we shall pay any price, bear any burden, meet any hardship, support any friend, oppose any foe, to assure the survival and success of liberty.”
John Fitzgerald Kennedy
“Those who expect to reap the blessings of freedom, must, like men, undergo the fatigue of supporting it.”
“Freedom has its life in the hearts, the actions, the spirit of men and so it must be daily earned and refreshed — else like a flower cut from its life-giving roots, it will wither and die.”
Dwight D. Eisenhower
“Freedom is never voluntarily given by the oppressor; it must be demanded by the oppressed.”
Martin Luther King, Jr.
“In the truest sense, freedom cannot be bestowed; it must be achieved.”
Franklin D. Roosevelt
“Those who desire to give up freedom in order to gain security will not have, nor do they deserve, either one.”
“Everything that is really great and inspiring is created by the individual who can labor in freedom.”
“Timid men prefer the calm of despotism to the tempestuous sea of Liberty.”
“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.”
Declaration of Independence
And we conclude with the words of John Adams, who recognized immediately the importance of what those colonists gathered in Philadelphia were doing in declaring independence from England. While Adams wrote to his wife Abigail that the day of celebration would be on July 2, when those gathered voted to approve the Declaration of Independence, and it is instead celebrate on July 4, when the 56 men signed the declaration, his suggestions on how Independence Day should be celebrated still ring true today:
“The second day of July, 1776, will be the most memorable epocha in the history of America. I am apt to believe 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 shows, games, sports, guns, bells, bonfires, and illuminations, from one end of this continent to the other, from this time forward forevermore.”
So this is the day to celebrate as Adams’ suggested by watching the fantastic fireworks on the riverfront, or by having a family gathering. And we hope many also will follow the other part of Adams’ suggestion with “solemn acts of devotion to God Almighty.” Be thankful that the nation created 237 years ago today, while far from perfect, is still the greatest nation in the world.
That is remains so is up to us.
Happy Indepedence Day. Have fun, be thankful.