Happy Birthday, America! Happy Independence Day to all Americans! The Fourth of July is called Independence Day because our Declaration of Independence was adopted that day 235 years ago. It was signed by fifty-six brave men who signed it knowing that their signatures would place their very lives in danger as well as their families, fortunes, and honor.
The document written by Thomas Jefferson is one of the greatest statements of freedom, liberty and independence ever written. It started with, "When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another…." It continued: "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. - That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed…." It ended with the men agreeing to "… mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes and our sacred Honor."
Benjamin Franklin commented at the signing, "We must all hang together, or assuredly we shall all hang separately."
On Independence Day 2011 we still hold these truths to be self-evident. Independence Day is not just another holiday because independence and freedom are not free. Our liberties and freedoms are very expensive in terms of life, health, and family life, as well as money and time. I hope that as you celebrate Independence Day you spend some time thinking about all those men and women who have sacrificed so much in order that you and I can enjoy liberty and independence.
Independence Day commemorates the birthday of the United States of America. It is celebrated on July 4 each year in every state and possession of the United States. The Continental Congress declared the American Colonies to be free and independent states on July 2, 1776. Two days later the delegates finally came to an agreement for a formal document to announce their action. Congress adopted the Declaration of Independence on July 4, which has been celebrated as the nation's birthday since that day.
The founders of this new nation believed that Independence Day was an important occasion for celebrating. 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 for evermore."
The first observance of Independence Day was held in Philadelphia on July 8, 1776. The Declaration of Independence was read, bells were rung, bands played, and the people rejoiced. Independence Day has been observed throughout the country since then even though Congress took until 1941 to declare July 4 as a federal legal holiday.
The early celebrations of Independence Day consisted of shows, games, sports, military music, and fireworks. Hundreds of deaths were caused each year by fireworks and the firing of guns and cannons. Since the early 1900's the sale and use of fireworks has been forbidden by law in many cities and states. Some communities hire professionals to do fireworks for their celebration. This year many cities and towns are considering canceling their fireworks display for economic reasons and/or fire hazards. Independence Day is a major holiday in the United States, and it is celebrated with programs, pageants, games, plays, athletic contests, camping, picnics, etc. It is a day for families to celebrate and be together.
I hope that all Americans choose to spend some time today in gratitude for the blessings of living in this free nation and for those who established and those who continue to maintain freedom, independence, and liberty. I ask that you also spend time in prayer for our nation, Israel, and the world because there is serious trouble worldwide at this time - economic, political, and spiritual. We are citizens of the greatest nation on earth. If freedom fails here, there is no place else to go. We live in a choice land and have the responsibility to keep the freedoms and opportunities that are ours.
A prophet in ancient days on this continent wrote, "Behold, this is a choice land, and whatsoever nation shall possess it shall be free from bondage, and from captivity, and from all other nations under heaven, if they will but serve the God of the land, who is Jesus Christ" (Ether 2:12).
President Gordon B. Hinckley, a latter-day prophet, declared, "I marvel at the miracle of America, the land which the God of Heaven long ago declared to be a land choice above all other lands.
"I love America for her great and brawny strength . I love her for her generous heart. I love her for her tremendous spiritual strengths. She is unique among the nations of the earth - in her discovery, in her birth as a nation, in the amalgamation of the races that have come to her shores, in the strength of her government, in the goodness of her people.
"God bless America, for she is His creation."
I join with President Hinckley in asking God to bless America . I hope that all of you will spend some time today expressing gratitude for the freedoms that God has given to you in this land which is still choice above all other lands.
Facts for this post came from an article by Jack Santino in World Book Encyclopedia, Vol 10, pp 106-107.
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