Celebrate with a purpose
Class of 2017
(7/2014) Itís time to celebrate the birth of our country. Wake up and get dressed for the occasion. Maybe some blue shorts and a white tank top with the American Flag on it. Maybe you could wear a blue t-shirt with a pocket? If youíre feeling adventurous, get a spirited bandana to use as a celebratory headband. Once youíre all dressed and ready, go to
the town parade! In Manchester, Pennsylvania youíll find all sorts of groups in the parade Ė the VFW, the middle school band, Kimís Twirlettes, and many more. The parade is over, now go home and get ready to attend the best cookout of the year. Either hold one yourself, or make the trip to another, but I know you will find the best hamburgers and hot dogs that youíve had
since July 4, 2013. At some point everyone under the age of 19 will post a picture online of the day, or of themselves. Now sit around and enjoy each otherís company, and the freedom we have to be able to do these sorts of things, the freedom to set off our own fireworks when the sun goes down.
I could go into any small town and find a celebration identical to the one that we hold in Manchester, Pennsylvania. Parades, cookouts, and fireworks have all become nationwide icons of the Fourth of July. It feels like a huge birthday party for our country, and we have our days of remembrance for fallen soldiers, for presidents, for those who fight
for our freedom every day. So we deserve a day to celebrate, right? The truth is yes and no.
I donít want to be misunderstood. I love the parties and the insane amount of hot dogs and brownies I eat, and I certainly donít want to do away with any of that. Our country, in all of its greatness deserves a party and most definitely deserves to be celebrated, I simply donít want donít lose the importance of that celebration in the process.
We often speak casually of how our country came to be. Oh they signed the Declaration of Independence on July 4, 1776. Thatís why we celebrate this day. And then we move on. But stop. Think about what was just said. You probably read over that as if it was just another fact. We signed another thing. But stop, think about this for just a few seconds. We
quite literally declared our independence. The freedom we love so much and hold onto so dearly, was something we had missed before. It must force us to think about what went into this extraordinary act. Thomas Jefferson didnít wake up one day and think, "Iím tired of the way we live, letís be free!" and write this new declaration by the time he was finished with breakfast. We
fought for this independence, and we fight for it every day. We didnít wake up and find ourselves free, and we shouldnít wake up every day without appreciating that freedom. So yes, we should party on July 4, 2014, but not without remembering all that went into these celebrations and all that happened on July 4, 1776.
July 4, 1776 wasnít the day that the Continental Congress decided to declare independence, nor was it the day that Thomas Jefferson wrote the Declaration or the day it was delivered to Great Britain. It wasnít the day we started the Revolution, and it wasnít the victory of any one battle. It was the day that the final wording and content was approved
by the Continental Congress.
What needs to be remembered is what had to be done and sacrificed in order for this declaration to exist. In 1764, the colonies began to feel unfairly taxed and watched over. After years of dealing with this, 12 of the 13 colonies met in Philadelphia in what is called the First Continental Congress. It was here that they called for a boycott of British
goods, a major act of rebellion. Hostility continued to rise and tensions grew until the first act of violence in April 1775 when British Troops travelled to Lexington, Virginia to seize gun powder and captured Samuel Adams and John Hancock. Eight Americans were killed here. At the second meeting of the Continental Congress, all 13 colonies were represented, and George
Washington was named the head of the Continental Army. You can see our roots beginning to grow and take shape. It was a process, and I believe remembering it should be a process as well.
Throughout the Revolution, journalism took a critical role in the shape of Thomas Paineís Common Sense in which he convinced many colonists that America should be an independent country, not a part of Britain. Meanwhile, the British were gathering great forces in an attempt to shut down the rebellion, but the rag tag Continental army fought back. On
June 11, 1776 congress chose John Adams, Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Jefferson, Robert Livingston, and Roger Sherman to draft the Declaration. On July 2, 1776, congress voted for independence before they approved the Declaration on July 4th. It is estimated that over 20,000 died in the war of Independence, and the fighting certainly did not end when the declaration was signed.
So many lives, sacrifices, and more went into the freedom we have today, the freedom that we often take for granted. We didnít wake up free, and we shouldnít wake up without recognizing our freedom. I try to fathom what it would have been like to live in that time, or to be a part of the rebellion. I simply cannot imagine it. Today we think about what
we do as a country, but can we imagine not being a country, and having to fight for that? I canít. So yes, our country does deserve a party. We deserve a huge celebration, but not without remembering why weíre celebrating. We arenít just celebrating our Declaration of Independence, but we are celebrating and remembering all that had to go into our freedom. We didnít wake up
free, so we canít wake up on the Fourth of July without remembering how we got to be free. Celebrate our freedom, party for our great country, but remember all of the things that were given so that we can enjoy this time of our lives.
Read other articles by Leeanne Leary