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June 22, 2004 > The Fourth of July

The Fourth of July

by Tatyana Hamady

The smell of a barbecue in your neighbors backyard, laughing in the park while many are picnicking, the roar of fireworks as they head towards the calm sky, and the applause of the crowd when its flaming colors light up the night; July Fourth is the one day, every year that we American's dedicate to honor our nation.

On the fourth of July we celebrate our independence from the British and the beginning of the American Revolution, the war that represents a continuing struggle for Liberty, Justice, and Equality. However, there are little known facts that shed additional light on this national holiday.

For many years, Americans were under British rule, enforcing their tax regulations and other laws on our ancestors. It began with many trivial laws that were being imposed on America, and grew into an issue of percentage of tax that had to be paid on insignificant items. This bloomed into an issue of American liberties. Then, the turning point that marked the beginning of our national history occurred.

On June 7th, 1776, Richard Henry Lee of Virginia made a proposition to the Continental Congress to declare independence from England. On June 10th, 3 days later, Thomas Jefferson put together a committee to write an appropriate document concerning this milestone in modern history. The document was the Declaration of Independence.

The proposition that led to the writing was approved on July 2nd, 1776, while Congress adopted the Declaration of Independence 2 days later on July 4th.

More interesting yet, all of the representatives to Congress, such as New York who did not vote on the Declaration of Independence until July 9th, were not even in attendance.
Furthermore, not a single delegate signed the declaration on July 4th. While the majority of the fifty-six people who voted signed by early August, one delegate, John Mckean, did not sign until 1781.

Today, there are only 4 American holidays, always celebrated on their calendar days: Halloween, Christmas, New Year's, and Independence Day. For convenience reasons, there have been debates in the past to move Independence Day celebrations to the following weekend. Yet, the freedom of our nation never fails to be celebrated on the day our forefathers set aside for liberty.

We owe these past patriots our thanks for the formation of our country and its freedoms. The Oxford dictionary's definition for liberty reads: "The right and power to act, believe, or express oneself in a manner of one's own choosing." My definition is summed up with one word: America.

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