July 4th means different things to different people. It could be your birthday, or perhaps an anniversary of some kind. It could be the day you got hired–or fired–or gave birth, or got good news, or bad news. Or it could mean nothing more than one of those hot days in July that you can’t remember much about. It comes, it goes, just like every other day.
But for Americans, it’s a BIG day. You know, Independence Day (July 4, 1776) and all that. The day we became our own little country and were FREEEEE at last. Although, according to constitutionfacts.com, it “wasn’t the day that the Continental Congress decided to declare independence (they did that on July 2, 1776).”
And it “wasn’t the day we started the American Revolution either (that had happened back in April 1775).”
Neither was it “the day Thomas Jefferson wrote the first draft of the Declaration of Independence (that was in June 1776). Or the date on which the Declaration was delivered to Great Britain (that didn’t happen until November 1776). Or the date it was signed (that was August 2, 1776).”
So, what exactly did happen on July 4, 1776?
The Continental Congress approved the final wording of the Declaration of Independence. They’d been working on it for a couple of days after the draft was submitted on July 2nd and finally agreed on all of the edits and changes.
July 4, 1776, became the date that was included on the Declaration of Independence, and the fancy handwritten copy that was signed in August (the copy now displayed at the National Archives in Washington, D.C.) It’s also the date that was printed on the Dunlap Broadsides, the original printed copies of the Declaration that were circulated throughout the new nation. So when people thought of the Declaration of Independence, July 4, 1776 was the date they remembered.
OH, TO HAVE BEEN AN EDITOR ON THAT DOCUMENT!!
And today? What does the fourth of July mean to Americans in 2013? Well, to many it is a day to celebrate our freedoms and the last 237 years and go to parades and wave flags and sing “God Bless America” and the national anthem–which many people think should be “America, the Beautiful” –but which is actually the “Star Spangled Banner,” a song written during the War of 1812.
Yes, it’s still about the red, white and blue–but July 4th has also become a day of BBQs and fireworks and, like New Year’s Eve, if you don’t have any plans, you feel like a loser. This year, the fourth landed on a Thursday, which made a long holiday weekend for many. I was invited to a pool party that I couldn’t attend because my house was attacked by flying AND swarming ants and I had to stay home and wait for the exterminator. Other than that, I played a lot of board games with my son and niece because it was hot, hot, HOT out and went to see “Now You See Me” at the movie theater because that meant FREE air conditioning (we have several window units that must run all day long to make any difference when the temp. is near 100 degrees, so we tend to go out). So, I didn’t have the definitive Fourth of July: I didn’t go see any fireworks in person, I didn’t have a beer or a hot dog, go to a parade or wave a flag. I didn’t do anything patriotic at all.
And I wonder if it had anything to do with my starting the year in Dublin, Ireland. I mean, after all, didn’t I flee this country just seven months ago in search of something better? Or different, at least? Every time I see a picture from Ireland posted on one of my “foreign” friends’ facebook pages, I feel…I don’t know, like I’m missing something. I didn’t feel like that when I was over there; I was missing a bad-weather winter in New Jersey and I was glad about that, and so many friends wrote to tell me that I truly “wasn’t missing anything,” that I believed them.
Still, it’s good to be here, in the land of the free and the home of the brave, because I know I am always free to leave again, then return, and write about what I please, and eat what I like (yuck Valencian food, just yuck), and say what I think and be who I am. Not that I couldn’t do all that in Ireland but, as we all know, it’s not like that everywhere, even though it damn well oughta be by now, for pete’s sake. Two hundred and thirty seven years ago, America declared its independence and I hope that someday soon, every nation seeking freedom will get their own Independence Day …and then women in those countries can dress like this (different flag) and no one will be able to stop them:
All in the name of FREEDOM. Sometimes, ya just gotta LOL at the whole thing.
By the way, visit my new website at http://www.editingiseverything.com to see why I’d have liked to have been there in Philly when they were drafting the Declaration!