Ask anyone the name of the holiday we will observe this weekend, and I’ll wager that 9 out of 10 people will respond “the 4th of July.” Let me come right out and say it: this irritates the heck out of me! The holiday is Independence Day! Congress established Independence Day as an official holiday in 1870, although the day was marked with celebrations from the beginning.
Independence Day is another on the sad list of American holidays which have lost their true meaning to retail opportunity or leisure or both. How does a big matress sale commemorate the solemn occasion of Memorial Day, for instance? Each year Christmas creeps further away from a celebration of the birth of Christ, the Word becoming Flesh, and closer to a retail jackpot with an ambiguous message. Even the name of Christmas has been scrubbed of its original meaning. (“Season’s Greetings”?; “Happy Holidays”?)
The largely successful effort to change the name of Independence Day has produced a day more readily associated with leisure and pyrotechnics than with the birthday of our great nation. The words “Independence Day” remind us that our fledgling nation defied the most powerful land on earth, declaring that all men have God-given rights and that government gets its power from the consent of its people. And our independence didn’t come quickly or cheaply. Over the 8 years of the Revolutionary War, approximately 25,000 lost their lives, according to the americanwarlibrary.com.
Yes, July 4th is quicker to say and to type, but Independence Day resonates with the ideals that gave birth to our country: self-determination, unalienable rights, liberty.
Happy Independence Day!