chelsea cookLet the trumpets sound, July 4 has come, been celebrated and many of us lived to tell about it. According to one source: “ On average, more people die in motor vehicle crashes on Independence Day than any other day of the year, an Insurance Institute for Highway Safety analysis of the five most recent years of available fatal crash data indicates.” That is a scary fact and I am glad I did not know it before i left to come home. We lived just short of 100 miles from where we have our family celebration at Sandbur Ranch. I think we left so late that most people had already killed each other or sobered up before we got to them. Either way, I am just as happy not to know where they were and why they didn’t aim at us.
We Americans seem to get so carried away with celebrating our Independence Day that we leave caution to the winds. Along with several other things, I do not believe that is what our Founding Fathers had in mind. I love this quote from John Adams regarding Independence Day celebrations even though he had the day wrong. More on that later. John Adams said: “I am apt to believe that it will be celebrated by succeeding generations as the great anniversary festival. It ought to be commemorated as the day of deliverance by solemn acts of devotion to God Almighty; it ought to be solemnized with pomp and parade, with shows, games, sports, guns, bells, bonfires and illuminations from one end of this continent to the other, from this time forward forever more.”
As a nation, we certainly get into the spirit of celebration for this day. Some 50+ years ago I was in a small Alaskan town on the Fourth of July. Even though many Alaskans did not want to become a state, they celebrated as well, or better, than any other place I have been. None of the smaller towns I have lived in since that time has had the city-wide complete celebration as that town did. It was great. We were in a sea side town in Australia one year and they didn’t seem to celebrate at all. The town I grew up in didn’t make a formal celebration at all.
Now pay attention so you do not think I have lost my history books. The Second Continental Congress voted to approve a resolution for independence from Britain. That same day , the Pennsylvania Evening Post (a newspaper) published this: “This day the Continental Congress declared the United Colonies Free and Independent States.” Sometimes it is mentioned that not all colonist were in favor of this treasonable act. Many of the colonists had really prefer to stay as british subjects and some who wanted out from under british rule just wanted better treatment. The British Parliament, at that time, was full of rich men who had no idea that “common” people were little more than animals. That is the thinking of men who believe that money and power are the end all of everything worthwhile.
But why do we celebrate July 4 instead of July 2 when we announced to the world we were to be free from Britain? Some sources differ but part of it was that the document had to be prepared, printed, revised, argued over, personal enemies made when they would compromise and none of them had a computer. Some sources say that John Hancock signed on July 4, other sources say most signed on August 2. A famous painting, hanging in the nation’s capitol, shows all the delegates signing. Experts say that no such thing happened. Some readings say that many were too afraid to sign in such a public manner. Remember this was a capital crime which would result in execution.  But they did sign it and the Revolutionary War started in full. There had already been a couple of exchanges.
Just think of possibly signing your death warrant knowing that was going to be printed and sent out to the whole world. You could not say, “Oh, officer, I was in a hurry to get home and just signed that as I went around the tavern.” That may work on some officers when they turn on the “lights,” but not this. You would have been doing an air dance without music.
I love American history and wish I had had a good teacher when I was in school. I even liked history back then. There are so many good things one can do to get those dullard kids attention. There is an original certified copy of the Declaration of Independence, signed by Benjamin Franklin, Silas Deane and Charles Thompson in the Gilcrease Museum here in Tulsa, Oklahoma. This to me, is beyond awesome.