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Chief's Corner - July

130AW

Portrait of Chief Master Sgt. Jason Evans

McLaughlin Air National Guard Base, W.Va. --

The month of July brings about barbecues, family outings and celebrations that are often accompanied by fireworks. The fourth of July is without a doubt one of the most important dates in our history, Independence Day. We often lose sight of the meaning behind holidays, we see them as a day off of work or as simply a good reason to get together with our family and friends. So, I thought that I would provide us all with a little refresher on Independence Day, the Declaration of Independence and a condensed version of how it all came to be.

The initial battles that kicked off the Revolutionary War happened on April 19th 1775 near Boston in the towns of Cambridge, Lincoln, and Concord. These conflicts planted the seed for the break of the colonies from Great Britain. In June of 1776, Richard Henry Lee proposed to the Continental Congress that the colonies make a break from Great Britain and become their own nation, under their own flag. The Continental Congress decided to table the proposal until formal justification could be reviewed. There were 5 men who were tasked with this endeavor; Robert R. Livingston, Benjamin Franklin, Roger Sherman, Thomas Jefferson, and John Adams, with Thomas Jefferson being the main contributor. The actual date that the Continental Congress voted favorably to declare their independence from Great Britain was July 2, 1776. This date was the date that some felt, namely John Adams, should be seen as the official day of independence. However, the 13 colonies didn’t choose to adopt this declaration of independence until 2 days later on July 4, 1776. Later in his life, John Adams was reported to have refused invites to 4th of July celebrations due to the fact he felt so strongly about July 2 being the day of independence. John Adams and Thomas Jefferson both died on July 4, 1826, 50 years after the adoption of the Declaration of Independence.

The first celebration of July 4 as the day of Independence was held in Philadelphia, July 4, 1777. The actual date that July 4 would be recognized as a federal holiday wasn’t until 1870 and later became a paid holiday for all federal employees in 1941. Fireworks became associated with July 4 celebrations as a replacement for the cannons and muskets that were fired after the first public readings of the Declaration of Independence. Among the celebration festivities some colonists were said to have had mock funerals for King George III as a way of signifying their independence.

So when you are celebrating the 4th of July this year with your family and friends, take a pause and remember why we are celebrating and all of the sacrifices that have been made and will continue to be made, for us to be the great nation that we are.