As John Adams contemplated the creation and signing of the Declaration of Independence, and all it meant for citizens of our fledgling country, and for generations yet to come, he expressed his feelings to his wife Abigail in an immortal letter:
"I believe that [Independence Day] 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 Shews, Games, Sports, Guns, Bells, Bonfires and Illuminations from one End of this Continent to the other from this Time forward forever more."
John Adams' vision of future celebrations has proven prophetic. Generations have remembered the "Day of Deliverance" with prayers of thanks to God, parades, fireworks (illuminations), and a variety of patriotic activities so glorious that when President Reagan recalled memories of his early Fourth of July experiences, describing a "special kind of nostalgia" and "a day almost as long-anticipated as Christmas," he was expressing the feelings of millions of patriotic Americans.
While Christmas is pretty hard to compete with these days, Independence Day can still be a special day full of happy memories. Here are some ideas. Select a few that will be meaningful for your family. Keeping it simple will help you and your loved ones have a fun time together and keep your focus on the things that matter most.
- Invite your family to dress in red, white, and blue (fun for pictures).
- Play patriotic music as your family is waking up and during the day.
- Learn about the Declaration of Independence:
* Learn about the key concepts in the Declaration.
* Talk about the importance of the Declaration of Independence.
* Learn about Thomas Jefferson, the principal author of the Declaration.
* Learn about the signers of the Declaration.
* Remember the price paid by the signers of the Declaration.
- Learn why historian David McCullough (and many other Americans) believe George Washington is our greatest president.
- Learn more about George Washington's life. (Congress made Washington commanding general of the Continental Army, so he was unable to sign the Declaration of Independence. Yet his leadership and service in the founding of the United States is so significant that he is known as the "Father of Our Country.")
- Hold a Fourth of July Declaration Ceremony or create a simple patriotic program of your own. Select a few activities that would be most meaningful and enjoyable for you:
* Read or recite patriotic quotes.
* Tell stories about the sacrifices early patriots made for us.
* Tell why you love America.
* Discuss what your family can do to help preserve our heritage.
- Make and enjoy delicious red, white, and blue food.
- Go camping or on a picnic. If allowed, you could build a campfire, cook a campfire dinner, sing patriotic songs around the fire, then talk about the things that make America great.
- If permitted, watch a fireworks display with your family or light your own fireworks.
- Take pictures of your family and record all the family fun.
"You will think me transported with Enthusiasm but I am not. I am well aware of the Toil and Blood and Treasure, that it will cost Us to maintain this Declaration, and support and defend these States. Yet through all the Gloom I can see the Rays of ravishing Light and Glory. I can see that the End is more than worth all the Means." ~John Adams