Nov. 24, 2010: Children spot their dad as he and his battalion prepare to enter a National Guard armory on Thanksgiving Eve after being stationed in Iraq for a year. | (CC BY: William Franklin)
Oct. 2, 2012: Corporal Colton Duran, an aircraft mechanic, hugs his wife Cathia during a return ceremony in Cherry Point, N.C., after more than 100 Marines completed a six-month deployment to Afghanistan. | (CC BY: U.S. Marine Corps/Lance Cpl. Stephen T. Stewart)
June 15, 2011: Reniah Krause, 2, clings to her father Sgt. Joseph Krause after he and fellow soldiers returned from Afghanistan to Fort Carson, Colo. | (Photo by John Moore/Getty Images)
Dec. 4, 2012: U.S. Army Sgt. Aaron Brewster is welcomed home after nine months in Afghanistan by his parents Steve and Sharon Brewster in Fort Stewart, Ga. | (AP Photo/Stephen Morton)
June 15, 2011: Scott Callahan, of the USS Carl Vinson crew, greets his daughter, three-year-old Savannah, after a six-month deployment to Afghanistan and Iraq. | (HOWARD LIPIN/San Diego Union-Tribune/ZUMA PRESS, San Diego Union-Tribune Publishing Company)
Nov. 11, 2012: Soldiers from the 147th Human Resource Company return to Minnesota from a year-long deployment in support of Operation Enduring Freedom. | (CC BY: Minnesota National Guard)
Dec. 22, 2011: Soldiers and their families are reunited as the last group of XVIII Airborne Corps Soldiers return home from a year-long deployment to Iraq. | (CC BY: Fort Bragg)
Feb. 27, 2008: Kira Slosser gives her brother, Army Sgt. John Slosser, a warm welcome home in Staunton, Va. John’s 116th Infantry Brigade Combat Team of the Virginia Army National Guard returned home after eight months serving in Iraq. | (CC BY: The U.S. Army/Maj. Cotton Puryear, Virginia Guard Public Affairs)
May 3, 2012: JoAnn Frazier embraces her son, 2nd Lt. Aaron Frazier, personnel officer with the Brigade Troops Battalion, 1st Stryker Brigade Combat Team, after he completed a 12-month deployment to Southern Kandahar, Afghanistan. | (CC BY: Arctic Wolves/Sgt. Thomas Duval, 1/25 SBCT Public Affairs)
April 5, 2012: Major David Bragg, executive officer for the Brigade Troops Battalion, 1st Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 25th Infantry Division, hugs his family at Fort Wainwright’s Alert Holding Area. | (CC BY: Arctic Wolves/Sgt. Thomas Duval, 1/25 SBCT Public Affairs)
July 10, 2013: Specialist Jessie Nelson, 4th Brigade, 2nd Infantry Division (Stryker), hugs her husband Matt at Soldiers Field House on Joint Base Lewis-McChord. Nelson returned home after an eight-month deployment to Afghanistan. | (CC BY: The U.S. Army/Sgt. Kimberly Hackbarth, 4th SBCT, 2nd ID Public Affairs Office)
Feb. 14, 2013: Emma Sharee Calica, left, greets her father U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Austen Calica, after a ceremony at Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Wash. U.S. Soldiers with the 9th Chemical Company returned from a year-long deployment to Korea. | (CC BY: DVIDSHUB/ Pfc. Loren Cook)
Do you know why we celebrate the 4th of July? Why don’t we celebrate the 2nd of July? Why don’t we celebrate the 2nd of August? Before you answer, consider some facts you may not have learned in your history lessons.
The Declaration of Independence was not written on July 4th, 1776. It was not signed on July 4th, either. That is the view of many historians.
On July 2nd, 1776, the Continental Congress, composed of the first American patriots, voted to declare independence from Britain for the thirteen American colonies. The battle for American independence from the British Empire had been ongoing for over a year. The battles of Lexington and Concord had occurred in the month of April, 1775. From that time until the summer meeting of the Continental Congress, many battles had been fought.
As those battles raged, so did the battle among colonists regarding the issue of independence from Britain. The Declaration of Independence did not spring up full grown on the 4th of July, 1776. It was born of the struggle among the citizenry and their leaders for a consensus that independence was the only acceptable solution to the continued tyranny of the British Crown and the British Parliament. Throughout the colonies in 1776 prior to the adoption of the Declaration of Independence, the people rallied behind the concept.
Thomas Jefferson was tasked with writing a Declaration of Independence for the Congress. He set about on July 2, 1776 to write the document which would become the centerpiece of our country’s birth. We have notes on the drafts of the Declaration of Independence. If you would like to see these notes – both in the original form and in legible typewritten form – follow this internet address to the materials: http://www.ushistory.org/declaration/document/rough.htm
The above source notes that Thomas Jefferson likely provided his rough draft to Ben Franklin and John Adams before the draft became final and went to the committee of Congress. It’s interesting to read the draft form and see the changes that were made to produce the document we have all learned at one time or another in our lives as American citizens and students.
July 4th, 1776 was the day on which the Continental Congress voted to approve the Declaration of Independence, as written by Thomas Jefferson, as approved by his co-authors, and as approved by the congressional committee overseeing its writing.
Many historians believe the actual document was not signed until the following month, on August 2nd, 1776. However, the approved Declaration of Independence was published in the former colonies – now states – to advise the populace that we had declared our independence from Britain. It was printed as a broadside and distributed throughout the land, so citizens could read it and see what their congressional representatives had done.
The key phrase in the document is one we have all learned at one time:
“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.”
We celebrate the 4th of July because that is the day the congress voted to approve the Declaration of Independence as written in the form we know. Our freedom was bought with the blood and courage of men and women of that era, who suffered untold hardships and risks to buy our freedom from British rule. They acted bravely, and they each risked the charge of treason to the Crown by passing the Declaration of Independence.