The United States turns 243 years old today. The scrappy nation of independent fighters, untrained militia men, and passionate free thinkers and merchants has turned into one of the world’s most powerful nations.
Lady Liberty stands on the our country’s eastern shores bearing the poem written by Emma Lazarus in 1883 “The New Colossus.”
The poem identifies her as the Mother of Exiles, probably because the people who lead the colonies to create a nation independent of the King of England were considered exiles from the country they once called their own, and found themselves endeavoring to create a new country for free men.
This Declaration of Independence was actually a letter to King George of England and included a statement of human rights, charges against those human rights, charges against the king and parliament and a statement of separation with signatures.
The Declaration was drafted by Thomas Jefferson and celebrated on July 8, 1776 in Philadelphia. The official signing of the Declaration took place on August 2, 1776.
On the first celebration of the July 4 final wording of the Declaration, 2.5 million people celebrated. Today, more than 300 million people celebrate the nation’s holiday.
Each year, the Liberty Bell in Philadelphia is tapped 13 times in honor of the original 13 colonies, and the original flag of the United States contained 13 stars in a circle so they would appear equal.
The holiday became an official holiday of the United States in 1870. People celebrate the country’s independence from England by gathering with family, friends and strangers for food, music and the continued tradition of fireworks.
While there are some people who choose not to celebrate the national holiday, most people, no matter their issues with the nation politically, socially, or historically, carry within them a kinship with their fellow Americans.
We are a nation of diverse people, free thinkers who argue and fight for what we believe. While we may fight with one another like siblings in just about any family, or friends or enemies, when threatened from outside forces, we are Americans who hold the ideal of freedom in our hearts and will honor that ideal with a ferocity that binds us in spirit no matter how far apart are beliefs.
We hope you have a happy and safe July 4 America.
The New Colossus
Not like the brazen giant of Greek fame,
With conquering limbs astride from land to land;
Here at our sea-washed, sunset gates shall stand
A mighty woman with a torch, whose flame
Is the imprisoned lightning, and her name
Mother of Exiles. From her beacon-hand
Glows world-wide welcome; her mild eyes command
The air-bridged harbor that twin cities frame.
“Keep, ancient lands, your storied pomp!” cries she
With silent lips. “Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”