You may not be huddled up with thousands of other Americans this year to watch the annual display of fireworks. You might be watching from your car or from the rooftop of your home or office building. Wherever you watch, if there are actually any displays in your area this year at all, you will likely be mandated to be at least a safe 6-foot distance from strangers, and of course, everyone will be wearing masks if they are willing to show respect for others safety.
Don’t Mess With Our Traditions
We are living in an historic time and we feel it more keenly when our beloved traditions are messed with. On July 4th, we are accustomed to celebrating our country’s independence from English rule. We typically lump our individual freedoms in there too. And, we have so many individual freedoms.
Give Me Liberty Or…
We Americans have the freedom to practice any religion we choose. We are free to travel around the country as we choose. We are free to work, save our money, invest our money in ways that we choose. Life is truly good and has only been getting better since we broke away from England and the Queen!
But, now that we are facing a pandemic that is spreading rapidly and causing the death of millions, we are being asked to take some precautions for the safety of all. Some people are not keen on adapting to the minor inconveniences and discomforts. It seems that some people would rather die than see how this is going to play out.
Privilege Or Inalienable Right
Our widespread affluence has made us feel more than a little entitled. We often misinterpret many things that are actual privileges as rights. For instance, it is a privilege to own and drive a vehicle. However, most people think it is an inalienable right. Because it is actually a privilege, there are rules that must be followed. For instance, you must stop your vehicle at traffic signals. You cannot run people over just because you are in a car. No, you don’t have the right of way. Typically, pedestrians have the right of way.
I could go on but suffice it to say that being able to get a haircut is not a right. It is a privilege. Being able to go to a bar or restaurant is not a right, it is a privilege. When the lives of many are threatened, privileges that put people in danger are going to be restricted.
No one has the “right” to endanger the lives of others. As a civilized society we care about the wellbeing of all citizens.
So as we go through the holiday weekend and into the rest of the month, doing our best to adjust to the temporary discomforts caused by this invisible enemy, let’s review a little history about our Independence Day.
From Constitution Facts
For the first 15 or 20 years after the Declaration of Independence was written, people didn’t celebrate it much on any date. It was too new and too much else was happening in the young nation. By the 1790s, a time of bitter partisan conflicts, the Declaration had become controversial. One party, the Democratic-Republicans, admired Jefferson and the Declaration. But the other party, the Federalists, thought the Declaration was too French and too anti-British, which went against their current policies.
By 1817, John Adams complained in a letter that America seemed uninterested in its past. But that would soon change.
After the War of 1812, the Federalist party began to come apart and the new parties of the 1820s and 1830s all considered themselves inheritors of Jefferson and the Democratic-Republicans. Printed copies of the Declaration began to circulate again, all with the date July 4, 1776, listed at the top. The deaths of Thomas Jefferson and John Adams on July 4, 1826 may even have helped to promote the idea of July 4th as an important date to be celebrated.
Celebrations of the Fourth of July became more common as the years went on and in 1870, almost a hundred years after the Declaration was written, Congress first declared July 4th to be a national holiday as part of a bill to officially recognize several holidays, including Christmas. (Interesting, right?) Further legislation about national holidays, including July 4th, was passed in 1939 and 1941.https://www.constitutionfacts.com/us-declaration-of-independence/fourth-of-july/
Not Such An Old Holiday
As you can see, our Independence Holiday is not very old. We are thrilled to be able to give thanks for our freedoms starting with the Independence of our country. I look forward to watching our nation continue to unfold with greater respect for all and greater freedoms for all.