Independence Day (often called July 4th Holiday) is a Federal holiday in the United States that commemorates the Declaration of Independence of the United States’ 13 American Colonies from Britain and the Monarch King George III. The Continental Congress had voted two days earlier, July 2, but it was not signed and declared until July 4th.
Independence Day is often associated with patriotism and parades that celebrate the freedoms that citizens in the United States too often take for granted.
In 1777, formal celebrations began with 13 gun salutes, speeches, prayers and music with fireworks in the evening. In 1852, abolitionist Frederick Douglas raised the question as to what Africans in America had to celebrate because they were enslaved.
The journey for equality for women and persons of color has traveled a long road paved in part by the words in the Declaration of Independence and later the Pledge of Allegiance. “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these, are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.”
If you have interest, research the evolution of the Pledge of Allegiance written in 1892 and amended several times. In 1954, President Eisenhower, in response to the Communist threat of the times, urged Congress to add the words “under God’ to first sentence of the Pledge of Allegiance. “I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America and to the Republic for which it stands, one nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.”
We celebrate this July 4th with the backdrop of all of the recent news in our country. Juneteenth and its historical significance. The Confederate battle flag being removed from the Mississippi State flag. Renewed energy for racial healing and prayers for the end of the Coronavirus pandemic. I recommend a fresh reading of 1 Corinthians 12:12-27 and Psalm 51:10.
Maybe we should celebrate not just the date of July 4th but our date with destiny as one nation of many different people all under the grace of God in pursuit of liberty and justice for all!
Julius C. Trimble
Indiana Conference of The United Methodist Church