Wednesday, July 1, 2009

History of the 4th of July

“Thus may the 4th of July, that glorious and ever memorable day, be celebrated through America, by the sons of freedom, from age to age till time shall be no more. Amen and Amen.”

Schoolchildren in America learn the basic history of the events surrounding the Fourth of July, but the details of this monumental occasion in American history somehow fall through the cracks.

Although July 4th is celebrated as America’s official split from Britain’s rule and the beginning of the American Revolution, the actual series of events show that the process took far longer than a single day. 

Taxation without representation! That was the battle cry of the 13 colonies in America who were forced to pay taxes to England’s King George III with no representation in Parliament. As dissatisfaction grew, British troops were sent in to quell any signs of rebellion, and repeated attempts by the colonists to resolve the crisis without war proved fruitless.

The original resolution was introduced by Richard Henry Lee of Virginia on June 7, 1776, and called for the Continental Congress to declare the United States free from British rule. 

On June 11, 1776, the colonies’ Second Continental Congress, meeting in Philadelphia, formed a committee with the express purpose of drafting a document that would formally sever their ties with Great Britain. The committee included Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Franklin, John Adams, Roger Sherman and Robert R. Livingston. The document was crafted by Jefferson, who was considered the strongest and most eloquent writer (nevertheless, a total of 86 changes were made to his draft!) The final version, the document that we know as the Declaration of Independence was officially adopted by the Continental Congress on July 4, although the resolution that led to the writing of the Declaration was actually approved two days earlier.

The following day, copies of the Declaration of Independence were distributed and, on July 6, The Pennsylvania Evening Post became the first newspaper to print the extraordinary document.

On July 8, 1776, the first public readings of the Declaration were held in Philadelphia’s Independence Square to the ringing of bells and band music. 
All of this had occurred with some of the delegates to the Congress not even present; New York, for example, did not even vote on the resolution until July 9th. 
(Did you know that that not a single signature was appended to the Declaration on July 4th. While most of the fifty-six names were in place by early August, one signer, Thomas McKean,  One year later, on July 4, 1777, Philadelphia marked Independence Day by adjourning Congress and celebrating with bonfires, bells and fireworks.

The custom eventually spread to other towns both large and small, where the day was marked with processions, oratory, picnics, contests, games, military displays and fireworks. Observations throughout the nation became even more common at the end of the War of 1812 with Great Britain.

On June 24, 1826, Thomas Jefferson sent a letter to Roger C. Weightman, declining an invitation to come to Washington, D.C., to help celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Declaration of Independence. It was the last letter, Jefferson, who was gravely ill, ever wrote. In it, Jefferson says of the document:

May it be to the world, what I believe it will be ... the signal of arousing men to burst the chains ... and to assume the blessings and security of self-government. That form, which we have substituted, restores the free right to the unbounded exercise of reason and freedom of opinion. All eyes are opened, or opening, to the rights of man. ... For ourselves, let the annual return of this day forever refresh our recollections of these rights, and an undiminished devotion to them.

In 1941, Congress declared July 4 a legal Federal holiday. Today, communities across the nation mark this major midsummer holiday with parades, fireworks, picnics and the playing of the "Star Spangled Banner" and marches by John Philip Sousa.                                                www.ourdocuments.gove.

I hope you and your family have a safe and enjoyable 4th of July and let us never forget the men who women who fought for and those who  gave their lives for the freedom we have today.


Have a great day in the Lord


Cathy’s Corner


Today is Thursday of Bible School. I can honestly say that I don’t ever remember being this tired during Bible school, and we all have concluded that we haven’t done near the amount of physical work getting ready for it that we normally do. In the past we have hung butcher paper on the walls, made trees out of everything from butcher paper to paper towel holders. From our homes we’ve hauled everything from Christmas trees to boats, to Army gear, to basket ball goals and sport equipment to pretty much everything but our kitchen sinks. I even took down one of my twin beds and hauled it along with a night stand and a lamp to the church; oh never mind that was for Daddy the Sandman and Me not VBS.  There are no limits to what a dedicated VBS worker will go to in order to ensure kids have the greatest possible week of the summer and to teach them about Jesus. But last year we had just finished our renovations of the Preschool building and we decided that was all the decorations we needed. Who would want to cover up such a great facility after we finally got it? This year our pre-kindergarten and kindergarten is completed as well and once again who needs to cover up such a great facility? So why am I so tired? Why after twenty years of ministry, after twenty years of VBS would I now be so tired; especially when I have such great help and such fantastic volunteers? Could it be, would it be, oh please don’t tell me, its old age! Noooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo!

You can never be too old for VBS; I’ve been telling people that for years. It’s true; you can never be too old for VBS. Everyone feels like a kid again during that week. You do things that you don’t normally do, you act in ways that you don’t normally act and you are willing to put everything else aside so that even one child can learn about Jesus and His love for them. This week I’ve seen entire families working in VBS. That always does my heart good to know that parents are teaching their children how to be a servant and to teach others about Jesus. I’ve sat at my desk and watched as Mother’s would come up the sidewalk with their children and kids piling out of cars. I’ve seen women standing on chairs acting like a choo choo train, dressing up with bandanas and talking like Aussies and hopping around like kangaroos.  I’ve seen grown women wearing crazy hats, blinking glasses and blowing bubbles out of a cell phone, oh wait a minute that was me. So you are never too old for VBS but  maybe you just can’t do the same things in VBS that you used to and it takes a lot longer to recover. Just like our children promote every year and learn to do something different and learn more and more about Jesus; it’s the reverse for us as adults. We can still work in VBS but we start doing something different and not as strenuous, and we do less and less physically.  But it’s all worth it when you watch those tired happy faces leaving at the end of the day saying, “I had so much fun today!” Or when you sit and watch them during large group singing the song they have learned all week, folding their hands in prayer and praying to Jesus, and telling you what the memory verse for the week was. Or when that one child that has given you more trouble than you can stand and you’re about ready to pull your hair out, gives his heart to Jesus and you see all the seeds that have been planted in the fertile little hearts of our preschoolers it makes it worth every tired achy bone in your body. After all it all comes back to Jesus.


Have a great day in the Lord