July 4th marks a day of celebration throughout America. Fireworks, picnics, and parades are just some of the ways we all recognize the day our Nation was born. Having noticed a difference in how people wish others a happy celebration, I’m curious as to what others think.
Do you say ‘Happy Fourth of July’ or something like it? Or is yours more along the lines of ‘Happy Independence Day’? Do you think it matters? I’m beginning to think it does, or at least long term it will.
So many people around me wish others a ‘happy turkey day’ and a, ‘happy bunny day’. I believe these kinds of flippant and light-hearted salutations truly detract from the significance of the occasion.
Thanksgiving had always been considered a day devoted to God in thanks for his continued providential oversight upon the Nation. Consider President George Washington’s Thanksgiving proclamation of 1789, for example:
By the President of the United States of America, a Proclamation.
Whereas it is the duty of all nations to acknowledge the providence of Almighty God, to obey His will, to be grateful for His benefits, and humbly to implore His protection and favor; and—Whereas both Houses of Congress have, by their joint committee, requested me “to recommend to the people of the United States a day of public thanksgiving and prayer, to be observed by acknowledging with grateful hearts the many and signal favors of Almighty God, especially by affording them an opportunity peaceably to establish a form of government for their safety and happiness:”
Now, therefore, I do recommend and assign Thursday, the 26th day of November next, to be devoted by the people of these States to the service of that great and glorious Being who is the beneficent author of all the good that was, that is, or that will be; that we may then all unite in rendering unto Him our sincere and humble thanks for His kind care and protection of the people of this country previous to their becoming a nation; for the signal and manifold mercies and the favor, able interpositions of His providence in the course and conclusion of the late war; for the great degree of tranquillity, union, and plenty which we have since enjoyed; for the peaceable and rational manner in which we have been enabled to establish constitutions of government for our safety and happiness, and particularly the national one now lately instituted; for the civil and religious liberty with which we are blessed, and the means we have of acquiring and diffusing useful knowledge; and, in general, for all the great and various favors which He has been pleased to confer upon us.
And also that we may then unite in most humbly offering our prayers and supplications to the great Lord and Ruler of Nations, and beseech Him to pardon our national and other trangressions; to enable us all, whether in public or private stations, to perform our several and relative duties properly and punctually; to render our National Government a blessing to all the people by constantly being a Government of wise, just, and constitutional laws, discreetly and faithfully executed and obeyed; to protect and guide all sovereigns and nations (especially such as have shown kindness to us), and to bless them with good governments, peace, and concord; to promote the knowledge and practice of true religion and virtue, and the increase of science among them and us; and, generally, to grant unto all mankind such a degree of temporal prosperity as He alone knows to be best.
Given under my hand at the City of New York the third day of October in the year of our Lord 1789.
Now Thanksgiving, by and large, seems to have been reestablished as merely a day to be thankful, in general, for what you have.
Easter has become little more than a celebration of hard boiled eggs, chocolate and rabbits. The resurrection of Jesus only has its reference in a small corner of the greeting card section of the grocery store and in churches, but there’s little more than that outside a specifically religious establishment.
Is Independence Day bound for the same fate? Will we soon forget the historical impact on our Nation that the declaring and subsequently asserting through force our independence from Great Britain? Or our continued freedoms and privileges this event continues to bestow on America’s citizens? I hope not. And I hope I’m just having a ‘Chicken Little’ moment.
That being said, I’d like to wish my readers a reverent and reflective Independence Day.