This Saturday, America will celebrate Independence Day. It’s a time for trips to the lake, backyard cookouts, and fireworks. Sadly, many participate in these activities without stopping to consider the reason for celebration.
On June 7, 1776, the Continental Congress met in Philadelphia in what is now known as Independence Hall. On that day, Richard Henry Lee of Virginia read a resolution calling for independence. Congress appointed a committee of five men to draft a declaration.
Those five men were John Adams of Massachusetts, Roger Sherman of Connecticut, Benjamin Franklin of Pennsylvania, Robert Livingston of New York, and Thomas Jefferson of Virginia. Jefferson wrote the original declaration, Franklin and Adams made revisions.
Congress reconvened on July 1, 1776. The following day, twelve of the thirteen colonies adopted Lee’s resolution for independence with New York not voting. Immediately after the vote, Congress began to consider the Declaration. Revisions continued through the night of July 3rd and into the late morning of July 4th. When church bells rang over Philadelphia, it was a sign the Declaration had been adopted and a new nation was born.
The cost of independence didn’t come easy. The Revolutionary War (or the war for independence) lasted from 1775 to 1783. Throughout the 239 year history of this country, Americans have fought to maintain our freedom.
My husband and I recently returned from vacation to Washington D.C. We were able to see the original Declaration of Independence in the National Archives. Although photography isn’t allowed in the archives building, the image of this document will be forever etched in my mind.
During our visit we also saw the flag that flew when Francis Scott Key penned the words of our national anthem, The Star Spangled Banner, during the War of 1812.
At Arlington National Cemetery, we saw the graves of thousands who died in service to our country and witnessed the changing of the guard at the Tomb of The Unknown Soldier. We visited Gettysburg, Pennsylvania where men died in a fight to reunite our country.
The Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum houses the Enola Gay—the plane that dropped the bomb on Hiroshima during World War II. We also visited the War Memorials from World War II, Korea, and Vietnam. And, at the Pentagon, we saw the rebuilt section which was damaged after the terrorist attacks of 9/11/01.
Freedom doesn’t come without a cost. So this Independence Day, when you watch fireworks or enjoy that backyard cookout, take a moment to remember why we celebrate.
To learn more about the Declaration or to view a photo of the original document, visit the National Archives.
For some more interesting facts about Independence Day, visit my friend Michele Jones to read her post.