“The Second Day of July 1776, will be the most memorable Epocha, 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 shews, Games, Sports, Guns, Bells, Bonfires and Illuminations from one End of this continent to the other from this Time forward forever more.” -John Adams.
Adams’s prediction was wrong on the day, but the sentiment is entirely correct. (The day we celebrate ended up being the day the Declaration was formally approved by the Congress, two days after adoption of Richard Henry Lee’s resolution which declared the colonies to be free and independent states.)
Note that in the late 18th century, the term “state” denoted a sovereign, self-governing entity — much like our current usage of “country” or “nation.” As we celebrate our independence, we reflect on what has happened to that sovereignty over the intervening 235 years. And, on how the “solemn Acts of Devotion to God Almighty” specified by Adams no longer dare be performed by any governmental entity. Times have certainly changed. Fortunately we still have many patriots in our midst, the Paul and Paulette Reveres of our day, re-founding fathers and mothers. With them, there is still hope for this great land; and with them we celebrate the defining moment of these United States.
Happy Independence Day!