Land That We Love

Salisbury Post- July 5, 2020

“Fireworks! Fireworks!” she screamed, as I pulled up to the intersection. There it was — the source of her excitement — a seasonal fireworks store set up under a tent. My four-year-old granddaughter continued excitedly, with her arms flailing expressively around in the air, “We will have fireworks! They will go way up in the sky! There are lots of colors! They are loud, but they are so pretty! We can go on a picnic and play at the park and sing songs and wave the flag around! I’m so ‘cited!”

I have to admit that the fireworks store looked pretty festive, although without her in the car, my not-so-rosy perspective would probably have been that the store could be creating traffic problems at that intersection for the next week.

The 4th of July has been low on my list of holidays in recent years. It sure has never stirred the emotion in me that I sensed in the voice of a four-year-old.

But, since she was so ‘cited, I thought that perhaps I should bolster my own personal joy pertaining to the event:

On July 2, 1776, the Continental Congress voted for independence. On July 4, 1776, delegates from the 13 colonies adopted the Declaration of Independence, as drafted by Thomas Jefferson.

John Adams wanted July 2 to be recognized as the holiday. He wrote a letter to his wife, Abigail, stating that in the future, July 2 will be celebrated by succeeding generations. He mentioned parades, games, bells, and illuminations.

The next year on July 4, 1777, there were fireworks in Philadelphia, along with a 13-gun salute in honor of the 13 colonies. The local newspaper stated that the city was beautifully illuminated.

And perhaps somewhere that day, a four-year-old described it this way, “They went way up in the sky! There were lots of colors! They were loud, but were so pretty!”

John? Were you ‘cited on that day? I think you were. I can tell from that beautiful description in the letter to Abigail. Also, you didn’t even want to wait until the 4th to celebrate, since you were in favor of celebrating on July 2. Freedom mattered to you, and to the others.

Thomas? Did you have any idea of the magnitude of that vote? Did you have any idea how fervently we would feel that freedom 244 years later? I believe he was thinking of us when he said this, “I like the dreams of the future better than the history of the past.”

Both John and Thomas died on July 4, 1826 — the 50th anniversary of the Declaration of Independence.

How about you, Betsy Ross? You made American flags for over 50 years. How did that feel? When you worked on the sewing of our flag, did you have any idea that centuries later, we would connect your name with our flag? I think you probably waved each flag around a few times, prior to handing it over the the new owner.

How about you, Liberty Bell? Ringing in at a weight of 2,080 pounds, and moving forward with a crack from when you were being tested. You did not ring on July 4, 1776, but rang four days later, on July 8, 1776, to celebrate the first public reading of the Declaration of Independence. Bearing these words from Leviticus 25:10, “Proclaim liberty throughout all the land unto all the inhabitants thereof,” surely must bring tears to the eyes of some of the over one million a year who come to visit you.

Oh, John, Thomas, Betsy, and Liberty Bell — I cannot even imagine the patriotism and pride felt during this time in our history.

It is so special — that maybe our celebration of freedom should last from July 2-July 8!

Or even better — 365 days a year!

We have so much to do! Fireworks! Picnics! Play at the park! Sing songs! Wave the flag around! Parades! Games! Bells! Illuminations!

Are you ‘cited?

Enjoy!

May God bless America — land that we love.

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