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  • What Is The Meaning of Independence Day? Tell USA Today Your Thoughts

    For 233 years, Independence Day has been the celebration of the day we declared our independence from the tyrannical reign of King George III. Since Thomas Jefferson wrote the Declaration of Independence it has been a symbol of freedom known worldwide. Thomas Jefferson noted, in a letter to John Adams in 1821 that:

    [T]he flames kindled on the 4 of July 1776, have spread over too much of the globe to be extinguished by the feeble engines of despotism; on the contrary, they will consume these engines and all who work them.

    July 4th is a day to celebrate our freedom, specifically the freedom to govern ourselves. Even in the midst of sharp political divide, Americans have always known that July 4th is the day we celebrate our freedoms that the Founders fought and died for. But are these sacrifices appreciated in the same way they once were? This week, USA Today printed an item asking people to send messages to other Americans on what we need to remember this year:

    Americans celebrate the values that unite us on the Fourth of July, but today the country seems sharply divided. As the country copes with unemployment, immigration and the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, what do you think the nation needs to remember this Independence Day? What are the messages you would like to share with other Americans? Write to letters@usatoday.com by June 21. Please include a name, address, and day and evening phone numbers for verification.

    Americans should remember the extreme sacrifices the Founders made so we could be free. We also cannot forget the extreme danger that was involved by just signing the document. That seems to be taken for granted nowadays, but it was an act of true bravery. One of the bravest, Ben Franklin, commented after he signed it:

    We must hang together, or assuredly, we will hang separately

    What else should Americans remember on Independence Day? Are the first principles that founded our nation being adequately considered in Washington today? The Heritage Foundation has some ideas. Tell us below, and send your thoughts to USA Today (letters@usatoday.com).

    Posted in First Principles [slideshow_deploy]

    18 Responses to What Is The Meaning of Independence Day? Tell USA Today Your Thoughts

    1. Billie says:

      Wow. I love this country so much! A country standing on principles,, morals and values regarding the equality and decency of humanity.

      It's a tough life, but that's okay. I love it!

      My thought on Independence Day is a celebration of people living within their means and free from government influence and intervention. People who build their own individual lives in freedom and independently within individuals abilities.

    2. West Texan says:

      Our independence is quickly becoming extinct. Don't believe me? Listen to Barney Frank's comments the other day. He and other congressional, administration and supporting leftist seek despotic rule. And they're slowly achieving their goal. I won't celebrate another 4th of July until this manipulative bunch of self-infatuated elitists are no longer in a position to abuse power.

    3. William Person says:

      Independence Day is a reminder that as a people we are responsible for our individual lives. With responsiblity comes accountability. It has been, is it, and it will always be our repsonsibility to elect representatoives who will by their votes put forth our values and beliefs in policy

      We are responsiblie for the past, today, and the future. Obama and his administration is OUR responsibility.

      The question is, what will we do about it? Will we continue this creeping socialism or restore and protect public policy that promotes limited government. free markets, personal responsibility, and personal liberty?

    4. Peggy, Oklahoma says:

      My son reminded me of what freedom is one time. As he gets ready for his 5th deployment overseas in August, this time in Afghanistan, I am reminded of what he said. Upon his first deployment I was complaining about those protesting the war. I took it personally–to me it was an attack on my son. But he said, "Mom, that's why I am going over there–so they have a right to do this." We can't take our freedoms for granted. Young men and women are risking their lives for the millions of Americans they don't even know just so they have a right to protest the very thing thing that is giving them their freedom. God bless all of them.

    5. Bannon - Southeast T says:

      Unfortunately, about half of the voting public and the majority of younger folks have no concept of what the 4th of July represents.

      What Juy 4th means to me is simple yet fills my being to the core. I was brought up in a time when our Nations history was still really taught. In my mind I see those brave men on April 19,1775 who stood the line @ Lexington and fought against a repressive, monarchist government risking there very lives. My God what a price in blood have generations of our men and women paid for the FREEDOM and LIBERTY we are quickly losing in our present time. The Declaration of Indepence is especially applicable to the current "government regime" in power today!

      (adopted by Congress July 4, 1776)

      "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 to 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. "

    6. Ross writes from Flo says:

      My family has fought in every major US war since the American Revolution with two exceptions , the Indian Wars of the late 19th century and the Spanish-American War.

      During the American Civil War/ War Between the States, family members fought on both sides. So many family member died during these wars to insure our God-given liberties. But liberty cames at a price, that each was willing pay. The last being two uncles, brothers in WW2. Both were 22 years old when they were kill-in-action, two years apart. Their remains unceremoniously received by " the deep." One off Guadalcanal, the other in the north Atlantic.

      My brothers and I served in Viet Nam when duty called. During and afterwards we were shoned and ridiculed by too many of our peers. So I felt unwelcomed at public 4th July celebrations for years. I have five of six sons(the one was phyically unfit to serve much to his disappointment) to have served the US military in combat starting with the first Gulf War. Two are still answering the call in active duty.

      But the real point, as for me and my kin, we are willing to pay the price for our God-given liberties and freedoms put forth in the divine inspired Constitution of the United States of America, than to live under any form of slavery from godless tyrants. When I was sworn into the Navy in 1964 and upon commissioning in 1973, I swore, making a covenant to God in the name of our Constitution, that I would "support defend it against all enemies, foreign and domestic." I will always live up to that oath to the best of my ability and to my last breath.

      The US Constitution insures me the opportunity "to seek life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness" The only thing the US government owes me is to defend the shores and borders, regulate commerce between states, AND keep the hell out of my life and pockets. If that is a radical idea, my family has been fighting and dying for it for over two hundred years.

    7. Grace says:

      Independence Day used to mean a barbeque with family and friends and fireworks later in the evening. Of course that was before I woke up in 2007. Independence Day now means freedom, It means a nation founded by men who loved and cared for this country. It reminds me that freedom is not always free and I've had to ask myself what are the things I hold important – do I really care about my country – oh yes, I love my country – I can honestly say "I love this country" because I now understand what these men did back in Philadelphia so that we can be free and independent from other nations. My God continue to bless this great nation and may we commit to what our founding fathers committed to – to save the Republic.

    8. Larry Backus, Orange says:

      It is very tempting to go for the easy, tip of the tongue, emotional history answer to this extremely important and timely question. But, I can no longer justify going the easy route, because there is so much hanging in the balance for our country, today and on into the future. Deep thought, analysis, and recollection have contributed to an evolving understanding of what this special day in our history really means. Let me try to explain.

      As a youth, I was exposed to the history behind the movement of our founding fathers as they came to the reality that freedom from oppression was important to life, specifically life in a developing country that was suffering from a severe dose of that oppression. At the time, I read and thought I understood the technical aspect of what occurred and who these men were. But, I did not develop a passion for understanding each individual and why they took the stand that they took and so desperately devoted life and fortune to the pursuit of freedom. I discovered in looking back at that part of my own history that I had a lot of information, but no real understanding, largely because I had no experience that equated to what those founding fathers knew and felt. Now that I have stepped out as a Marine to go to war to defend this country and what those founding fathers wanted it to become, I see that words on the pages of documents and books tell only a small part of the story of what causes men to risk life and more to set a country on the path to freedom, knowing that many more, like them, would be asked to step forward in defense of what they started. Until I experienced the need to do exactly this, and then voluntarily went to war, risking my own life, I had no real idea what they went through.

      It is interesting that when I volunteered, I had no idea why I would do what I was about to do, especially since most of this country was openly objecting to the war (Vietnam) and thought of us warriors as baby killers or worse. It was only through experiencing the deaths of close friends and sitting with other friends to discuss just what we were doing and why it meant anything, that I began to realize that the oath to "support and defend" my country began to come to life inside me. It was then that I also began to understand my own faith in God that was more of what really drove me to do what I had volunteered to do. It became a commitment to God, to serve Him and those who He put into this world for me to love and defend. It became God and country to me, and it became personal.

      With that realization, I began to see the founding fathers in an even clearer and deeper light. As I then reread the history of our country, I could see that it was their faith and love of freedom and their brothers (and sisters) that made what they did so very special. I began to see that these men (the founding fathers) were virtually all men of faith, who saw that God was guiding them to create something that would bring glory to Him, not just create a social experiment in freedom. God is everywhere in everything that these men said and did to bring about the origins of this great country. And, it is this one true God and the men He sent to create this country, independent of all others, with freedom and liberty for all, who I celebrate on Independence Day, even as I also salute the men He used to bring it about.

      If you read the history of our country without recognizing the passion instilled in the founding fathers by God, then you are only missing the boat.

    9. Ron, Indiana says:

      Independence Day reminds me of all of those brave men and women that fought for our freedoms. It is a shame our soldiers today get almost no respect for what they are fighting to preserve. Our Founders intended the USA to be a Republic and went to great lengths, the Constitution, to make sure we would not be where we are today. This 4th of July reminds me that in November, we take back this wonderful country that has blessed me so much. God bless the USA!

    10. Drew Page, IL says:

      RIGHT ON ROSS — Freedom isn't free.

      Our Constitution was written by men who understood that a government was necessary to provide certain things that individuals could not provide such as the common defense, regulation of interstate commerce and promotion of the GENERAL welfare (not an individual's welfare). They carefully detailed and limited the powers and responsibilities of government, leaving all unspecified powers with the individuals states and with citizens. The Bill of Rights was added specifically to protect the rights of individual citizens against any intrusions by the government.

      Our Constitution guarantees citizens freedom of opportunity, not equal outcomes. It guarantees citizens have the right to PURSUE happiness, not the right to be GIVEN happiness.

      When the U.S. experienced its greatest waves of immigration in the late 19th century and the early 20th century, there were no such things as Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, Unemployment Compensation, Welfare checks, Aid to Dependent Children or Food Stamp programs. You went through a legal process, took an oath of allegience, became a citizen and learned to speak English. If you couldn't find a way to feed yourself, you starved. If you couldn't find shelter, you died from exposure. If your covered wagon got a flat on the way to California and the Indians, or rattlesnakes, or disease got you, oh well. When you came to America you were given opportunity and nothing else. People learned to be self-reliant the hard way and it's what made this country great.

    11. Ardath Blauvelt says:

      Our celebration on the 4th of July is a reaffirmation that we continue to believe that the American experiment in self-government, in Lincoln's government of, by, and for the people, was a dangerous, daring and noble experiment. It has given us our unique place in human history and remains the light of hope for millions. Our devotion to the worth and therefore the freedom of each individual does not promise an easy life, but it does promise a fulfilling one. Freedom is the antithesis and the enemy of power and so it is the despot's most sought after treasure. Power is the single, certain zero-sum game. It can grow only by the degree to which it takes another's freedom away. By definition, freedom overtakes power, or is stolen away by power. That means that as we celebrate the freedom of Independence, we must also acknowledge the ongoing battle to preserve it from any and all who would steal it. It means remembering those who voluntarily gave and those who now risk their futures, their fortunes and their lives to save it.

      The day we stop celebrating America's exceptional willingness to sacrifice for freedom is the day we know our child will eventually come to us and ask, "What is Freedom?"

    12. Spiritof76, NH says:

      July 4th is a reminder of the exceptioanlism of our great country. It weaves the Declaration of Independence and the US Constitution into an unbreakable set of founding documents. Freedom of the people is endowed by their Creator and the government is formed to protect those rights. The rights to life, liberty and pursuit of happiness (property rights) are all inalienable. The government is a servant of the people.

      What we have today is the exact opposite of those principles. The government has become a master. It has usurped the rights of the people under the pretext of providing security. The Constitution has been violated many times in the interest of accumulating power. The Congress, the Executive and the Judiciary have conspired to bring that about. Property rights have been abolished largely. We are reduced to the role of being serfs so that a few in government can take care of us.

      July 4th is a day of mouring now-mouring for the loss of freedom that our founding fathers sacrificed so much to secure. It can and must be a day of awakening to redeem our rights, our founding principles and restore the American exceptionalism. Our road will be rough but we must endure any and all hardships for the sake of our children and grand children. We must pledge our lives, our fortunes and our sacred honor again to redeem our freedom. Let this July 4th be the day of that rebirth.

    13. Colleen Kayter, Sant says:

      It was not against a foreign government that Americans chose to take a stand. They were overturning the British government in America because that government had become intrusive and oppressive. And every one of them knew that if they failed, they would all be found guilty of treason and sentenced to death. The war that followed lasted nine years, was fought on American soil, and through which all Americans suffered. I can't help but wonder how many Americans today would be willing to show half as much commitment to the ideals and freedoms they sought to establish for future generations.

    14. Bobbie Jo says:

      Independence day shouldn't be celebrated by government authorities making it impossible to live independent.

    15. Margaret Mueller, Ro says:

      This is probably too long to meet the criteria for USA Today, never-the-less my comment:

      Twenty-five years ago, in the parking lot of a shopping mall, I received a powerful and poignant lesson of how Independence Day unites America.

      It was almost dusk on the evening of the Fourth of July as my friends and I began walking from my apartment through the acres of parking to get to Cal Expo to watch the fireworks display. Every parking space at the massive mall was filled with cars, and at the trunk of every car was standing a family. The diversity of families was striking, a Hispanic family, a Phillipino family, a Pakistani family, an Indian family, a Chinese family, a Hmong family, a Russian family, an Ethiopian family, a Nigerian family, a South African family; these newly-minted American citizens stood side by side in the parking lot celebrating. The air was full of smoke. Every family was unpacking sparklers, piccolo petes, fountains of 'safe and sane' fireworks. In the smokey haze, tonight is a memorial of their accomplishment: the happiness and pride on every parent's face was speaking, "I am living in the land of opportunity and giving the gift of freedom to my children." Joy was reflecting from every child's sparkler dance, the wonder and excitement in their faces was speaking to the legacy of freedom of assembly, freedom of speech, freedom of religion, and freedom of the press that was being given as a birth-right by their parents. The children and their parents shared their family's euphoria with those adjacent to them, the parents smiled at one another, the children waved their sparklers at one another, laughing and showing off in the light. Space after space, row after row of cars, the community was joining together in pride of citizenship in the United States of America, The Nation, that has stood for freedom and opportunity throughout the world, celebrating that historic moment when men like themselves had risked their lives, honor, and fortunes to forge a country and a national character unique in the history of the world: one where freedom was guaranteed, and a chance join earning by your labor a share of our nation's prosperity was offered to each regardless of their race, creed or national origin.

      The parking lot at the Arden Fair Mall in Sacramento at dusk that July evening was one of the last places across the continental United States to begin lighting fireworks. Across the United States from Maine, New Jersey and Georgia hours before, to Indiana, Iowa and Lousiana later, to Montana, Arizona and Colorado an hour before, I was realizing that Americans had gathered in parking lots, parks, and street corners to do exactly what I was seeing before me: celebrate our good fortune at living in this amazing country, at this peaceful point in history. What I was seeing had been initiated, set up and been repeated by millions and millions of flag-waving Americans across this great nation. Trying to imagine it, to grasp the reality of this great, rolling celebration starting four hours and three thousand miles east on the beaches of Atlantic, and thundering across the landscape — I was envisioning an America uniting as one people, one great people who truly embraced the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution as there own, many for the very first time. It was a realization that for me, was deeply emotional — I wanted to embrace everyone of these strangers!! The profundity of that moment has never left me. We were celebrating our freedom together in a uniquely American way, as in no other nation on Earth: our diversity is our strength, our unity is our pride, and on Independence Day, we display our heart-felt commitment to the freedom and ideals of our Founding Fathers which is binding our character as a people, enabling us to live and work together as a free, powerful and prosperous nation.

    16. Alexa Azarian, Eden says:

      My belief of Independence Day is that this day is to serve as a reminder for all of the sacrifices and dangers that the Founding Fathers and soldiers throughout the years faced while trying to form and protect this country. We should be thankful for a nation that serves its people and protects and upholds our God-given liberties and rights of "Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness." It saddens me that most Americans forget about these sacrifices, even to the point of protesting against soldiers at their own funerals.

    17. Billi, Portland OR says:

      The last couple of years I just keep thinking about what WE took away from the native peoples of this land and now we call it our own.

    18. rehemaecha says:

      why do Americans people celebrate the 4TH of the July . well because it is part of their culture and tradition.Also it is a time to remember that independence is the spirit and the soul of the nation .

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