Photo of Independence Hall

Independence: The Reason for the Season

“Happy 4th of July”?

by Doug Powell

Christmas Day is one of our most treasured national and religious holidays. To be sure, federal employees of these United States have never received a paid day off to celebrate a holiday named “X-mas.” And families do not gather by the fire to celebrate the “25th of December.” This is why you might see a sign or two proclaiming, “Jesus is the Reason for the Season.”

So, why has our national Independence Day slowly morphed into the “4th of July”, a celebration practically devoid of all historical context and original meaning?

Well, let’s just say that those who would like to “fundamentally transform” America must first subtly and methodically transform the patriotic language and historical foundations that we have passed down from one generation to the next. Like many American traditions, the original exclamation of “Happy Independence Day” has been removed from public consciousness over the past few decades so that very few Americans actually know why we gather on July 4th to partake in BBQs, fireworks, and in many cases, excessive drinking.

Why July 4?

Historical photo of signing of Declaration of IndependenceFor those keeping track, July 4th was the date in which the Second Continental Congress’ unanimously adopted the Declaration of Independence from Great Britain and its tyrannical king George III in the year 1776. Yet, if the vast majority of Americans hardly know why they celebrate a seemingly random date on the calendar, then why make it the 4th of July? Why not July 2nd, the date the Continental Congress actually voted for a separation from Great Britain? Or July 8th, the day the Declaration was first read to an eagerly awaiting public? Or perhaps August 2nd, the day the Declaration was signed by most of the Congressional delegates?

Over the past few years, I have made a deliberate and sometimes strained effort to say the more unfamiliar phrase of “Happy Independence Day”, rather than the easier off the tongue, “Happy 4th of July”. It can take some getting used to, like it did for me. But it can be much more satisfying.

Grab those “teachable moments”

That was the case for wife just today. As she walked our dog in a bustling campground full of American flags and citizens, a little girl with patriotic pigtails rode by on a bicycle. She enthusiastically exclaimed, “Happy 4th of July!” My wife joyfully responded, “Happy Independence Day!” And the little girl immediately stopped her bike and innocently questioned my wife out loud, “What’s ‘Independence Day’?” Ah, a teachable moment where my wife could briefly explain that our nation was actually celebrating our independence from Great Britain many years ago, rather than just another random summer day.

Try it yourself this year. You too might encounter Americans just a little bit stunned to hear those three simple and unfamiliar words. But the moment you hear that awkward reply back, “Happy Independence Day!” – it will be well worth the effort.

(Doug Powell is an honest seeker of truth, committed to reestablishing the original intent of the American founding, correcting misconceptions of American history and the miseducation of receptive Americans, including himself.)

(The views expressed in this commentary are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official position of the Nevada Signal.)