Who doesn’t look at our national flag and feel a swell of pride in their hearts?
Who doesn’t feel that lump in one’s throat, humbled by all of those who went before us and all they did to ensure our freedom — to ensure that our flag would forever wave?
As we celebrate today, I was reminded of the pride — and joy — that John Adams felt when he wrote on July 3, 1776: “The Second Day of July 1776 [the day Continental Congress voted in Philadelphia to declare independence from Britain] … ought to be solemnized with Pomp and Parade, with Shews, Games, Sports, Guns, Bells, Bonfires and Illuminations from one End of this Continent to the other from this Time forward forever more.”
James Madison had an even broader vision that he expressed years later, on January 19, 1788, when he stated: “Every man who loves peace, every man who loves his country, every man who loves liberty ought to have it ever before his eyes that he may cherish in his heart a due attachment to the Union of America and be able to set a due value on the means of preserving it.”
So, perhaps today is a mix of these two visions: one of joy and appreciation and one that acknowledges the gravity of our obligations and responsibilities as we move forward.
We are also reminded that the authors of the Declaration of Independence, when declaring our independence from Britain, defiantly wrote: … “That as FREE AND INDEPENDENT STATES, [we] have full Power to levy War, conclude Peace, contract Alliances, establish Commerce, and to do all other Acts and Things which INDEPENDENT STATES may of right do. And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm Reliance on the Protection of divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our fortunes, and our sacred Honor.”
To all of our fellow countrymen — and allies from abroad — that have believed in our forefathers’ visions and commitments, we honor you — and thank you — for your allegiance and your courage.
May God always bless the United States of America.