In fact, almost $460 million worth of fireworks (more than half
supplied by China) will be purchased this year with the Fourth of July being the most popular day to light them. About one in three people will eat a hotdog or pork sausage, a tradition that originally began in Iowa. And potato salad and potato chips will be among the most common side dishes consumed, with about half of those potatoes grown in Idaho or Washington state.
There are hundreds and thousands of facts and figures that revolve around the Fourth of July. Most of them are fun but trivial for a holiday celebrated by 314 million people. By comparison, only 2.5 million lived in this newly independent country in July 1776.
Still, there are many similarities between the colonies then and the United States today. The most striking similarity was that although the colonies were presided over by the British, the people who lived here came from all over Europe. What is not so similar is that those early Americans understood the gravity of their actions and the courage it would require to declare independence and see it through.
They didn’t simply break from British rule. In total, 56 men would sign into being a political philosophy expressed by John Locke and many Continental philosophers here as well as an increasingly enlightened Europe. Among those principles were that individuals were created equal with unalienable rights, which could never be taken by government, law, or majority vote as so carefully articulated in the opening paragraphs of the document.
Principles Contained Within The Declaration Of Independence.
We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.
That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed,
That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.
These thoughts were not limited to a few Englishmen but rather a growing understanding that government is not the end all to people but rather a means to provide an environment where men and women could pursue their happiness with government providing for their safety but otherwise allowing them to regulate their own pursuits of industry and improvement with taking from the mouth of labor the bread it has earned.
For the times, these were progressive ideas. And it took courage to not only to break from England but also implement a government that existed nowhere else on earth.
In 2001, the National Archives introduced a unique online invitation for anyone to add their name to the Declaration of Independence. Before you do, however, the National Archives reminds participants that by adding any name to the document means that a reward would immediately be posted and certainly be considered act of treason in 1776.
The whimsical addition can then be printed in black and white or color, including your name alongside the other signers. Would you sign it today? Most Americans would because they recognize it as what makes this country unique. Some, of course, would not, mostly because they let their heritage become overshadowed by the trivial.