Johnstown, Pa —
I grew up in a city that comes alive in a big way on the Fourth of July — Charlottesville, Va., the home of Thomas Jefferson.
I played Little League baseball literally in the shadows of his beautiful home — Monticello. And I have roamed the halls of that great house too many times to number.
Soon, the nation will be celebrating Independence Day, and I am reminded of what John Adams wrote to his wife Abigail regarding it: “July, 4, 1776, will be the most memorable epoch in the history of America. I am apt to believe that it will be celebrated by succeeding generations as the great anniversary festival.
“It ought to be commemorated as the day of deliverance, by solemn acts of devotion to God Almighty. It ought to be solemnized with pomp and parade, with shows, games, sports, guns, bells, bonfires, and illuminations, from one end of this continent to the other, from this time forward forever more.”
Is patriotism as strong today? Like many of you, I grew up reciting the pledge of allegiance in grade school. I am not sure they allow schoolchildren to say the pledge anymore.
If not, that’s a crying shame, because I remember, even as a youngster, feeling patriotic and proud of my country after having recited that pledge. I dare say, if more young people recited the pledge of allegiance daily, perhaps their selfish attitude of believing the world owes them something would be replaced with a spirit of hard work, determination and honor.
Daily recitation would also serve as a reminder of the blessing of being an American!
I was taught by my parents to be proud of my country every day.
There has never been a moment when I have not been. For me, being selectively proud of America is an insult, not only to our Founding Fathers, but to every man and woman who has sacrificed or will sacrifice his or her full measure so we may enjoy our freedoms.
I appreciate the humble, long, hard march to independence started by our forefathers when the Continental Congress met in Philadelphia and tasked a committee to write a formal document that would tell Britain that we Americans wanted to be free from their tyrannical rule.
The committee asked Thomas Jefferson to write a draft document.
On June 28, 1776, the committee met to read it. They revised the document and declared their independence on July 2.
They officially adopted it on July 4.
Congress ordered all members to sign the Declaration of Independence. They began signing the copy on Aug. 2, 1776. In January of the next year, Congress sent signed copies to all of the states. You know the rest of the story.
Our forefathers knew very well that declaring independence and achieving independence were two entirely different things. The notion of independence required unwavering commitment, and the price of independence was to be paid with blood, sweat and tears. This commitment and price they were willing to pay without hesitation.
The last sentence in that great document is a testament to their steely eyed conviction:
“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.”
So this Wednesday — July 4 — and every day for that matter, let us honor our Founding Fathers and mothers by the lives we live, regardless of our circumstances.
And let us please never forget to remind the rising generation(s) of how blessed they are to be living in the greatest nation on Earth.
Happy birthday, America!
ROBIN L. QUILLON is publisher of The Tribune-Democrat in Johnstown, Pa. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.