Today, Old Glory is flying, as its spectators might be carrying a bit more pride within them. The melody of the Star-Spangled Banner resonates loudly or perhaps in their minds. July 4th--Independence Day in America, can be called a symbol of patriotism for Americans as they enjoy a day off from work.
But how was the day incepted? Several events and dates paved the way for America to celebrate her birthday--all the way back to April 1775 when the first battles of the Revolutionary War began and a handful of people craved independence from England.
However, when tensions raged on between the countries, more colonists yearned for the split--which was also brought to light through documents like "Common Sense" by Thomas Paine and similar works in the first part of 1776.
The Continental Congress met in Philadelphia on June 7 of that year, in which Richard Lee Henry from Virginia presented a motion for the colonies' independence. The vote was postponed but five men--Thomas Jefferson of Virginia, John Adams of Massachusetts, Roger Sherman of Connecticut, Benjamin Franklin of Pennsylvania and Robert R. Livingston of New York--were called to draft a statement to justify the sought-after independence.
On July 2, Lee's resolution was brought to a vote, with almost every delegate in the Continental Congress voting for independence (New York initially did not vote, but later voted in favor). Two days later, the Declaration of Independence--written mostly by Jefferson--was adopted by the Congress, marking the date of celebration for America's independence birthday.
During this first celebration, Americans mocked the celebration of the King of Britain's birthday by holding fake funerals for King George III. Along with the first public readings of the Declaration of Independence after its adoption, concerts, bonfires, parades and firing off cannons and muskets were among the festivities.
Congress was still dealing with the war, thus Philadelphia made it an annual celebration by observing the day the next year. George Washington marked the anniversary with his soldiers in 1778 with double rations of rum, and in 1781, Massachusetts was the first state to make the 4th of July an official state holiday.
Independence Day was continually commemorated after the Revolutionary War, but was used as a means to promote politics and unity, which later led to the parties holding separate celebrations in the larger cities toward the latter part of the 18th century.
The celebration also became more prevalent following the War of 1812 when America once again took on Great Britain. Congress made the day a federal holiday in 1870, but in 1941, the government allowed for Independence Day to be a paid holiday for all federal employees.
Though he was talking about July 2, John Adams penned a note to his wife, which looked ahead to the future of how America's Independence Day would be celebrated by the people of the nation in future generations. "The great anniversary festival," as he called it, would include "pomp and parade...games, sports, guns, bells, bonfires and illuminations from one end of this continent to the other."
Indeed, in typical Americana fashion, the way we celebrate Independence Day is as classic as baseball and apple pie. Downtown parades, musical events, barbecues and fireworks--which were actually authorized a year after the signing of the Declaration of Independence in Philadelphia--make up the annual day of leisure for families to come together and remember our country's birth.
Locally, several events have and will commemorate America's birthday. Blackwell and their volunteer fire department already held their annual parade, barbecue and dance on Saturday, June 30.
Here in Sweetwater, the Lions Club once again sponsored the 4th of July parade this morning from downtown to the Nolan County Coliseum, followed by music from the Sweetwater Municipal Band at Newman Park and a special patriotic speech. Rolling Plains Memorial Hospital also joined the festivities later in the morning by offering ice cold watermelon on their front lawn to the community.
Coming up this weekend on Saturday, July 7, Roscoe will celebrate the nation with a 10 a.m. parade downtown. Food, crafts and kids' activities will follow in Old Town Park. The Plowboy MudBog will kick-off at 11 a.m. at George Fields Park.
That night in Roscoe--"on the bricks" at 6 p.m., live music will be provided by Greg Maldo, followed by artist Curtis Potter; a fireworks display will round out the Independence Day celebration.
So while the smells of barbecue waft through the summer air, the sounds of music can be heard and people are seen taking it easy on this day, we can't forget those men who, hundreds of years ago, took a stand to break from the mold, seek out independence, and become a nation for countless families to live in and achieve their own American dreams.