Tuesday, Jul 02 2013 12:00 AM

Guest Commentary: Fourth of July is Independence Day

I was born just after World War 2 and raised during a period of strong patriotism. We didn't just celebrate the Fourth of July, but we celebrated Independence Day.

Now you may think there is no difference and the official word is that there isn't any difference, but I've seen a change in our country through the years.

The official history of the day is as follows, according to history.com: "Variously known as the Fourth of July and Independence Day, July 4 has been a federal holiday in the United States since 1941, but the tradition of Independence Day celebrations goes back to the 18th century and the American Revolution (1775-83).

"In June 1776, representatives of the 13 colonies then fighting in the revolutionary struggle weighed a resolution that would declare their independence from Great Britain. On July 2, the Continental Congress voted in favor of independence, and two days later its delegates adopted the Declaration of Independence, a historic document drafted by Thomas Jefferson. From 1776 until the present day, July 4th has been celebrated as the birth of American independence, with typical festivities ranging from fireworks, parades and concerts to more casual family gatherings and barbecues."

Somewhere along the complicated path we walk in this life, it seems to me that folks are more interested in the "festivities" part of the holiday rather than the true meaning of the celebration.

I am still moved when I see our flag flying. I still recognize the sacrifice of our many men and women in the military. I recognize the struggle that our forefathers had in bringing us the freedoms we have today. I celebrate the Fourth of July, not just as a time off work or a time to party with friends and family, but for what it is, the seed of all that we have today in our great country. I celebrate our Freedom to worship as we please, to pursue happiness in our life and work, to live and raise our families where we want.

I celebrate our Independence of our nation from the control of foreign governments and the ability we have to rule ourselves, making our own mistakes and paying for them because we made them ourselves, not because of something forced upon us by others.

We have grown into a great nation, because on July 2, 1776, the leaders of our new nation chose to stand in the face of a great power and shake their fist and say, "We no longer cower at your threats! We will no longer serve you as slaves! We the people, will live, suffer or prosper as an independent people and we are willing to die for our beliefs!"

That is the Fourth of July which I remember this week! What about you?


RUSS LAWSON is minister at the Tehachapi Church of Christ.

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