Clearing Up July 4th Confusion


Here in the US we celebrated July 4th this week. That’s our Independence Day. It’s a little off according to historical facts, but nevertheless, it’s the day we observe.

Except, it’s actually become somewhat confused with two other days we set aside each year—Veterans’ Day and Memorial Day. The first was originally designated as Armistice Day, marking the end of World War I, which was why November 11 was originally chosen. It was renamed Veterans Day in 1954 and became a day to honor those Americans who served or were serving in the military.

The second, Memorial Day, is set aside in May to pay tribute to the members of the military who died serving their country and actually came into being some time after the Civil War.

So we honor service members in November and those who sacrificed their lives for their country in May. What then are we celebrating on Independence Day?

In reality, this holiday grew out of thankfulness that we have a country. It celebrates the declaration of independence from the British empire, though the Continental Congress actually voted for independence two days earlier. The formal signing of the document that grew from that vote became the day we acknowledge as the birth of the US.

So in reality, our celebrations should center on our foundation, not on the Constitution, which wouldn’t be written for another decade or more, not on our flag which hadn’t been created yet, not on our military because it was non-existent at the time.

What we had was a Continental Congress and a Declaration of Independence. And that’s quite enough to celebrate.

Here’s how it begins:

When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.— That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed,— That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.

I can’t help but wonder if we as a nation still hold these truths to be self-evident.

Safe And Sane – A Reprise


Timing. I suspect many people in the US are well on their way to their Fourth of July long weekend get-away. And here I am, writing a blog post.

Plus, we’re celebrating our Independence when a good many Americans don’t feel so independent. Instead of having representatives vote on some key lifestyle issues, we’ve had a handful of scholarly, appointed-for-life judges make decisions that are redefining the American way of life. The procedure reminds me more of an oligarchy than of a democracy and certainly seems more oppressive than anything King George did those two hundred plus years ago.

With both those factors in mind, I’ve decided a reprise of this Safe and Sane post is in order—with some small revisions.

* * *

It seems odd to me that a holiday which should engender joyous celebration has needed to be tempered by the sound bite “safe and sane,” at least here in SoCal. It seems we’ve had too many children maimed by firecrackers, too many injuries from stray bullets, and too many brush or house fires caused by illegal fireworks.

Safe and sane indeed.

The morning after the big Independence Day celebration, the air is clogged with the residue of fireworks across the LA basin and into Orange County. We’ll breath the thick air until we get an onshore breeze that will blow it all into the next county. I’m sure they’ll appreciate the leftovers of our safe and sane celebration.

Don’t get me wrong. I find fireworks—the legal ones, especially the big shows that are accompanied by patriotic music—fascinating. They’re beautiful but also demanding of respect. Not to be misused or abused.

I’ve sat on the grass at Dodger Stadium or at Angel Stadium and looked up at the sky lit as bright as day while the concussions vibrate in my chest. It’s an awesome sight—far removed from the street rockets and sparklers and the less safe and sane fireworks going off all across the city.

Holidays. Seems we need one during the summer so we have an excuse to shoot fire into the sky, to light up the barbecue in the backyard, and to bring family and friends together.

It all seems so divorced from the cause which it celebrates—a day of independence which was not noted for being sane or safe. Or frivolous, purposeless, or just for show.

Too bad we can’t celebrate the Fourth of July by doing something as radical as the founding fathers did—standing up to tyranny, setting free those enslaved to senseless laws. You know, something that actually has a connection to freedom.

Ah well, we can dream, can’t we. Meanwhile, I guess I’ll enjoy the show—I can see four or five legal fireworks displays from my front porch and then there are all those behind-the-house or in-the-street family affairs. It’s quite a sight.

For those of you in the US, may your celebration be safe and sane on the outside, but radical and freeing on the inside. 🙂

“For our citizenship is in heaven from which also we eagerly wait for a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ.” (Phil. 3:20)

Happy Fourth Of July


Fourth_of_July_Fireworks_at_Washington_DC_-_1Today is Independence Day here in the US, the commemoration of the Declaration of Independence, though we generally associate the day with the War of Independence. Consequently, the most obvious activity connected with our celebration is firing off fireworks or attending fireworks shows.

From time to time, however, it’s a good idea to think a bit more about the document that was behind the establishment of the USA. After all, this short treatise claims rights for all men, “inalienable rights,” no less. Here’s how it begins:

IN CONGRESS, July 4, 1776.

The unanimous Declaration of the thirteen united States of America,

When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.–That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed

So happy Fourth Of July, to you all, everywhere.

Published in: on July 4, 2014 at 5:50 pm  Comments Off on Happy Fourth Of July  
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