Find that quote here: Revolutionary War and Beyond, where you can read a nice article on the history of the Declaration of Independence. Click to read Jefferson’s personal account of the writing of the Declaration from the same site. And here is a transcription of the Declaration of Independence from our government archives.
And now to rev you up for declaring and celebrating our freedom from tyranny:
Right away, Independence Day was celebrated joyously. From PBS’ A Capital Fourth:
On July 8, 1776, the first public readings of the Declaration were held in Philadelphia’s Independence Square to the ringing of bells and band music. One year later, on July 4, 1777, Philadelphia marked Independence Day by adjourning Congress and celebrating with bonfires, bells and fireworks.
The custom eventually spread to other towns, both large and small, where the day was marked with processions, oratory, picnics, contests, games, military displays and fireworks. Observations throughout the nation became even more common at the end of the War of 1812 with Great Britain.
I think we all know how to celebrate this Civic Holiday. We all have memories of picnics and fireworks and parades. The importance of Independence Day celebrations in 2020 cannot be overstated. We are in a fight for the life of our beloved Republic. In that same PBS article, is a quote from Jefferson (his last letter) in which he wrote about the Declaration of Independence:
“May it be to the world, what I believe it will be … the signal of arousing men to burst the chains … and to assume the blessings and security of self-government. That form, which we have substituted, restores the free right to the unbounded exercise of reason and freedom of opinion. All eyes are opened, or opening, to the rights of man. …For ourselves, let the annual return of this day forever refresh our recollections of these rights, and an undiminished devotion to them.”– Thomas Jefferson
June 24, 1826 Monticello
Back when my kids were small, we celebrated the Fourth of July with special outfits (my mom would sew matching patriotic outfits for my kids to wear) and we would pack a picnic and head off to watch fireworks. One year we were in Boston and headed out early to secure a place near the orchestra.
It was so exciting to be in Boston for an Independence Day celebration and listen to the Boston Pops on the Esplanade. The place was so crowded that our little blanket spot was trampled by fellow citizens trying to secure spots, or move from one spot to another!
People would actually step over our children on their way to some other place! I’ll never forget it. Human nature. 🙂 But once the music started and everyone settled down, it was wonderful. The fireworks were brilliant, even if the kids were sleepy and we were all exhausted.
What mattered is that thousands of Americans gathered together to celebrate our freedom. The energy and patriotism could be FELT. Celebrating our Civic Holidays is vital to maintaining a patriotic spirit.
Nowadays, our children take their kids to the fireworks displays in their locales. If they happen to be around, we head out to the back 40 and have a big bonfire and our own fireworks. The kids have sparklers and we share a summer picnic meal. We might even shoot off a few guns.
This year, I think I’m going to share a few good books with the grandkids and maybe watch some patriotic films. I want them to know that they have “certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness. — That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed…”
If we don’t teach them, who will? Not the schools. Not even most churches. Certainly not a bloated bureaucratic state that seeks to tell us what meds we can and MUST take, and whether we have the right to leave our house without a face mask!
It’s time to declare our Independence Day! Just over four weeks away, the Fourth of July 2020 is on a Saturday. Let’s celebrate it like our freedom depends on it!
Wee Sing America (Toddlers to age 7, CD and book of patriotic songs)
The Fourth of July Story by Alice Dalgleish, (Ages 4-8, endearing story for young children)
The Story of the Statue of Liberty by Betsy Maestro (Ages 6-10)
A New Nation: The United States, by Betsy Maestro (Grades 3-5)
The Star-Spangled Banner by Peter Spier (Ages 3-7)
America the Beautiful by Katharine Lee Bates (Ages 3-7)
You’re a Grand Old Flag, by George M. Cohan, illustrated by Norman Rockwell (All ages)
This Land is Your Land, by Woodie Guthrie, illustrated by Kathy Jakobsen (All ages)
Yankee Doodle, A Song From the American Revolution, by Todd Ouren, a history of the song, lyrics and activities for children
Here is an exhibition from the Library of Congress called Declaring Independence: Drafting the Documents. It has a wonderful online exhibition with a timeline.
James Cagney film Yankee Doodle Dandy
The Patriot with Mel Gibson
Red Dawn with Patrick Swayze
Independence Day with Will Smith
Patton with George C. Scott
The Green Berets with John Wayne
Sergeant York with the great Gary Cooper
To Hell and Back with Audie Murphy playing…Audie Murphy
Captain America, the First Avenger
Men of Honor with Cuba Gooding, Jr.
I could go on and on. I hope you all will share your own great films, books, recipes, traditions and memories. Let us celebrate our great Republic, its founders, and the freedoms we need so desperately to retain and pass on.