The 3-inch-tall lead colonial soldier painted to represent our great, great many times grandfather on my dad’s side, a man who fought in the American Revolution, is on display for “his” favorite holiday. Independence Day approaches this coming Friday. Since you will be reading this column on Sunday, you’ll still have plenty of time to honor this day that changed history.
Something akin to couples who renew their wedding vows at 25 or perhaps 10 year intervals, what would be the effect if each of us renewed our “vows” to the Declaration of Independence, or to the Constitution, on July 4th? More to the point, how many of us have read either of these documents since high school government class, or perhaps even then?
There is no question, regarding the importance of family celebrations, of fireworks and picnics, of concerts. These signal activities are crucial to a well rounded Fourth of July.
But to get back to the root of the holiday, it is vital to remember why there is a celebration, in the first place.
Read the history of the British ruled colonies from about 1750 to about 1775. Understand the significance that the English crown’s response to the costs of the French and Indian War had in fueling the fires of colonial independence.
Read the Declaration of Independence itself, with its emphasis on the Enlightenment concept of natural rights, and responsibilities.
Read the Constitution, which defines certain parameters and boundaries for what government can and cannot do, and how that should, in our republic, be arranged for.
Remember what happened when the people who became the U.S. were forced to respond to situations which had them, figuratively, backed into a corner from which the leaders saw no other way out.
Understanding that the holiday on which we celebrate our independence marks a number of other things — the midpoint of summer, the real opening point for many northern seaside resorts, the inevitable double header for many baseball teams — the key element here is that the events of July 1776 created far more than a holiday.
The importance of this particular day cannot be overlooked, amid all of the ways in which we celebrate it. To forget the mistakes and sacrifices of the past is not only dishonorable, but dangerous.
Clyde Davis is a Presbyterian pastor and teacher at Clovis High School. He can be contacted at: