7/3/2012 12:02 PM
Happy July 4th!
The July 4th birth of our Nation commemorates the adoption of the Declaration of Independence on July 4, 1776, prepared by a Committee of five statesmen with Thomas Jefferson as the principal author. Celebrations of the Declaration began early. Philadelphia marked the first anniversary by adjourning Congress and celebrating with bonfires, bells, and fireworks. George Washington issued double rations of rum to his soldiers on July 4, 1778. In 1781, several months before the key American victory at Yorktown, Massachusetts was the first to recognize July 4th as an official state holiday.
The celebration gradually spread across the fledgling country, observed then as now with parades, speeches, picnics, contests, military displays, and fireworks. Observations became more common at the end of the War of 1812. In 1826, the 50th anniversary was celebrated with "a year of national jubilee." In 1870 Independence Day became an unpaid holiday for federal employees, and finally a paid federal holiday in 1941.
The Declaration of Independence is far more than a justification for the Revolution. It is a foundational document that specifies the principles of freedom and equality that inform our Constitution, our Bill of Rights, and our way of life. A number of other countries were inspired through the years by the Declaration in their quests for freedom, including France, Greece, Poland, Russia and many countries in South America.
As you all know, our freedoms have been dearly won and dearly preserved. We are all indebted and grateful to our troops in theater. We pray for their safety and hope they have happy celebrations as their circumstances allow, with favorite foods, softball, calls home, and USO entertainment. The USA.gov website has some great ideas and information for fun and safe celebrations: http://www.usa.gov/Topics/Independence-Day.shtml.
Deputy CIO Mr. Krieger and SGM McCrary join me in wishing you and your families a safe and happy celebration on this Independence Day holiday.
LTG Susan S. Lawrence