Tooele County citizens celebrated the Fourth of July or Independence Day this past weekend with great flair and safety.
There were fireworks, parades, races, concerts, rodeos, breakfasts and other events scattered throughout the county as residents came together as a community and in their homes with their families to celebrate the historic moment when the colonies declared their independence from the British Crown.
We give thanks to the many groups and individuals that made the public celebrations possible.
On July 2, 1776 the Continental Congress approved a resolution by Richard Henry Lee that called for the colonies independence from Great Britain. Two days later, on July 4, the Congress adopted the Declaration of Independence, a document primarily authored by Thomas Jefferson that formally explained the reasons for breaking ties with the British kingdom.
Lacking television, radio, and Facebook, in 1776 the Declaration of Independence was read publicly so people could hear the news. Concerts, bonfires, parades and the firing of cannons and muskets often accompanied those readings.
John Adams, who believed July 2 was the correct day to celebrate our Independence, wrote that the day should be celebrated with “Pomp and Parade…Games, Sports, Guns, Bells, Bonfires and Illuminations from one End of this Continent to the other.”
Philadelphia held the first annual commemoration of independence on July 4, 1777. Massachusetts, the home of the Boston Massacre and the Boston Tea Party, became the first state to make July 4 an official state holiday in 1781. In 1870, the U.S. Congress made July 4, Independence Day, a federal holiday.
Now that the celebration is over, we suggest it is time to take a few minutes and read the document that we just got through celebrating if you haven’t already done so.
It is in the declaration that we find the founding fathers affirmative statement 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.”
The declaration goes to explain that governments — deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed — are instituted to secure these rights.
Claiming not to declare their independence for “light and transient causes,” the representatives of the colonies listed 27 tyrannical grievances against the King of Great Britain.
In the concluding paragraph, the declaration — “The unanimous Declaration of the thirteen united States of America” — after appealing to the “Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of our intentions,” declares the authority by which independence is claimed as “In the Name, and by Authority of the good People of these Colonies, solemnly publish and declare, That these United Colonies are, and of Right ought to be Free and Independent States.”
Once again affirming that just governments derive their power and authority from the people.
Eleven years later our founding fathers gave us a new framework for a national government, a constitution to be adopted with a Bill of Rights.
The much discussed and argued over second amendment secures “the right of the people to keep and bear Arms …” stating that a well regulated militia is necessary to the “security of a free state.”
However, our founding fathers gave us another weapon to use to reject tyrants and protect our freedom — the right to vote.
In the United States of America there are no kings, potentates, or other monarchs that exercise power over the people. There are no hereditary or life time peers that serve in our legislative bodies. We are a free people.
Our public officers maintain their position and authority by the “name and authority of the good people” of the states.
As much as we appreciate our Declaration of Independence and Constitution. We can’t celebrate them without honoring, as Abraham Lincoln said, “the brave men (and women), living and dead” that have fought to protect our liberties.
To honor them, Lincoln said: “We here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain — that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom—and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.”