‘Happy birthday’ to the best nation in the world

“The second day of July, 1776 will be the most memorable epoch in the history of America. 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.” — John Adams to his wife, written in 1776.

Resolution for independence from the British Empire and creation of the United States was voted on by the Second Continental Congress and approved July 2, 1776 with final approval, after debates and revisions, made two days later; hence the Fourth of July as the official birthday of our nation.

Our nation officially turns 243 years old today. Enjoy it and enjoy what it stands for and has always stood for: freedom and independence from tyranny.

There is never a shortage of Independence Day activities for local residents. Salem had its fireworks show scheduled last night at Memorial Park along with a bunch of kid-friendly activities. Columbiana always does a bang-up job with its July 4th activities and big fireworks show at Firestone Park. Thanks to all the sponsors of the events in Salem, Columbiana and other locales.

The annual Parade of Boats will be held on Guilford Lake this afternoon at 2 p.m. If you have never seen it, you might want to consider it. You will see some pretty cool decorated and colorful boats sailing on a lazy, hazy summer day. You will see some imagination put into the efforts of the boaters. The theme for today is “Make Your Own Boat.”

Regardless of what you have planned today enjoy it. Yeah, it’s a bit of a bummer that this July 4th falls on a weekday. But you have to imagine some are getting a four-day stretch off of work. But for many of us it will be back to work tomorrow. Regardless, enjoy your family and friends today. Enjoy — and appreciate — your individual freedom. Nothing is perfect and neither is our country. But it remains the finest nation in the history of mankind. Not too bad. We are all Americans first and foremost.

The most common yet strongest thread running through our nation’s fiber is our independence. That is the way John Adams and his fellow founding fathers meant it to be. Enjoy the holiday and appreciate your freedom. With all the Constitution bashing going on nowadays it is even more significant. Stress that to your children and grandchildren. Make sure they understand what the words “Declaration of Independence” represent.

As for Adams, our country’s second president, here are some interesting facts about the Fourth of July. How’s this for amazing coincidences? Both John Adams and Thomas Jefferson, the only signers of the Declaration of Independence to later to serve as presidents of the United States, died on the same day: July 4, 1826. Another founding father, our fifth president James Monroe, died on July 4, 1831, becoming the third president to die on a July 4th. Years later, 30th president Calvin Coolidge was born on July 4, 1872 — the only president born on Independence Day.

According to accounts, when Jefferson was nearing death he called for family and friends around his bedside and with a distinct tone uttered: “I have done for my country, and for all mankind, all that I could do, and I now resign my soul, without fear, to my God, my daughter, to my country.”

After falling back asleep, Jefferson later awakened at eight o’clock that evening and spoke his last words: “Is it the fourth yet?” His doctor replied, “It soon will be.”

On July 4, at ten minutes before one o’clock in the afternoon, Jefferson died at the age of 83 –the 50th anniversary of the Declaration of Independence — and a few hours before John Adams, whose own last words were, “Independence forever” and “Thomas Jefferson survives.”

Let us indeed pray that independence will always remain forever in this nation, our nation, the grandest of all nations. Have a wonderful holiday. Enjoy your family and friends. Enjoy your freedom and embrace the history behind it. And please leave the shooting of fireworks to the experts.

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