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As a writer, needle artist and photographer, I invite you to share my pursuits with me on this site. Among other things, there is a weekly post called “D-mail” that examines the spiritual meaning in current stories, both personal and news events.  I invite your comments at  cathycongerblog@gmail.com

“The act of putting pen to paper encourages pause for thought, this in turn makes us think more deeply about life, which helps us regain our equilibrium.”  N. Platt

These first two photos I took of the full moon last night at about 9:30 pm.  I used a Canon Power Shot camera for all of these photos. I shot the moon with the night camera setting.  I took the remaining photos two weeks ago when I was babysitting my grandchildren who live near Boulder, Colorado. As it was over 100 degrees every day, we spent a lot of time at their pool.  Further north, outside of Ft. Collins, a huge forest fire was blazing.  We saw evidence of it in the smoke across the sky that ironically produced the beautiful sunset you see in the photo just before the ones of the children.  Enjoy!

Scripture: “If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and will heal their land.” II Chronicles 7:14

How About a Little History Lesson?

Known as both the Fourth of July and Independence Day, July 4th, as I was surprised to find out, has been a paid, federal holiday in the United States only since 1941. However, the tradition of Independence Day celebrations goes back to the 18th century and the American Revolution (1775-83). In June 1776, representatives of the 13 colonies then fighting in the revolutionary struggle weighed a resolution that would declare their independence from Great Britain. On July 2nd, the Continental Congress voted in favor of independence, and two days later its delegates adopted the Declaration of Independence, a historic document drafted by Thomas Jefferson. From 1776 until the present day, July 4th has been celebrated as the birth of American independence, with typical festivities ranging from fireworks, parades and concerts to more casual family gatherings and barbecues.

From 1774 to 1789, the Continental Congress served as the government of the 13 American colonies and later the United States. The Declaration of Independence announced the intention of the 13 American colonies to separate from Great Britain. The British parliament and King George III had no such intention! Up to this point in history, no colony had ever risen up against its mother government and certainly none had ever done so successfully. The American colonists had to fight not only for their independence, but for their very lives. They backed up their intentions with blood and miraculously won. It’s no wonder that on the day that British General Cornwallis surrendered to General George Washington at Yorktown, VA, the British band played the tune The World Turned Upside Down.

When the initial battles in the Revolutionary War broke out in April 1775, few colonists desired complete independence from Great Britain, and those who did were considered radical. By the middle of the following year, however, many more colonists had come to favor independence, thanks to growing hostility against Britain and the spread of revolutionary sentiments such as those expressed in Thomas Paine’s bestselling pamphlet “Common Sense,” published in early 1776.  On June 7, when the Continental Congress met in what would later be called Independence Hall in Philadelphia, the Virginia delegate, Richard Henry Lee, introduced a motion calling for the colonies’ independence. Amid heated debate, Congress postponed the vote on Lee’s resolution, but appointed a five-man committee–including Thomas Jefferson of Virginia, John Adams of Massachusetts, Roger Sherman of Connecticut, Benjamin Franklin of Pennsylvania and Robert R. Livingston of New York–to draft a formal statement justifying the break with Great Britain. Thomas Jefferson (1743-1826) authored the Declaration of Independence and served as America’s third president from 1801 to 1809. John Adams, one of the delegates from Massachusetts and America’s second president, was a ferocious supporter of independence. On July 2nd, the Continental Congress voted in favor of Lee’s resolution for independence in a near-unanimous vote (the New York delegation abstained, but later voted affirmatively). On that day, John Adams wrote to his wife Abigail that July 2 “will be celebrated, by succeeding Generations, as the great anniversary Festival” and that the celebration should include “Pomp and Parade…Games, Sports, Guns, Bells, Bonfires and Illuminations from one End of this Continent to the other.”

On July 4th, the Congress formally adopted the Declaration of Independence, which had been written largely by Jefferson. Though the vote for actual independence took place on July 2nd, from then on the 4th became the day that was celebrated as the birth of American independence.  John Adams believed that July 2nd was the correct date on which to celebrate the birth of American independence, and would reportedly turn down invitations to appear at July 4th events in protest. Adams and Thomas Jefferson both died on July 4, 1826–the 50th anniversary of the adoption of the Declaration of Independence.

In the pre-Revolutionary years, colonists had held annual celebrations of the king’s birthday, which traditionally included the ringing of bells, bonfires, processions and speechmaking. By contrast, during the summer of 1776 some colonists celebrated the birth of independence by holding mock funerals for King George III, as a way of symbolizing the end of the monarchy’s hold on America and the triumph of liberty. Festivities including concerts, bonfires, parades and the firing of cannons and muskets usually accompanied the first public readings of the Declaration of Independence, beginning immediately after its adoption. Philadelphia held the first annual commemoration of independence on July 4, 1777, while Congress was still occupied with the ongoing war. George Washington, the Commander-in-chief of the armed forces, issued double rations of rum to all his soldiers to mark the anniversary of independence in 1778. In 1781, several months before the key American victory at Yorktown, Massachusetts became the first state to make July 4th an official state holiday.

After the Revolutionary War, Americans continued to commemorate Independence Day every year in celebrations that allowed the new nation’s emerging political leaders to address citizens and create a feeling of unity. By the last decade of the 18th century, the two major political parties of the day–Federalists and Democratic-Republicans — began holding separate Independence Day celebrations in many large cities. The tradition of patriotic celebration became even more widespread after the War of 1812, in which the United States again faced Great Britain. In 1870, the U.S. Congress made July 4th a federal holiday; in 1941, the provision was expanded to grant a paid holiday to all federal employees. Over the years, the political importance of the holiday would decline, but Independence Day remains an important national holiday and a symbol of patriotism.

When our founding fathers were in passionate debate as to whether or not the American colonies should declare their independence, Benjamin Franklin stood and said these words, “We must all hang together, or assuredly we shall all hang separately.” He may have been jesting a wee bit when he said that, but everyone in the chambers that day knew the cold truth of what he said. They were plotting treason and only God could know how it would turn out. In faith, they placed their lives, their future and the future of a nation in God’s hands. As Americans today, we are not in imminent danger of punishment for treason, but America faces dangers through which only God can guide us. On this 236th birthday of our nation, let us honor the courage and faith of our founders by, as they most certainly did, lifting her up to God in fervent prayer.

Prayer: Almighty God, as you were there in the chambers of the Continental Congress when in trepidation they forged their intentions to form a new nation, as you were there when issues like slavery threatened to dissolve that fragile new nation, as you were there when powers of evil threatened the freedom our nation holds so dear, we hold up our beloved United States of America to you today. We acknowledge that as citizens and government we have sinned and held selfish interests above the greater good. Forgive us Lord. We humbly ask that you would turn us away from greed and haughty pride so that the terrible mistakes that have put the nation in jeopardy will not destroy us. Help us to make wise decisions in this election year. Remind us what has made us great. Lord, heal our land. May we turn to you in every circumstance. Amen