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Saturday, July 02, 2011

On Pomp and Parade and Illuminations

Jean Sexton writes:

On July 2, 235 years ago, the Second Continental Congress voted to separate the 13 colonies from Great Britain. John Adams, a prominent lawyer, political theorist, and future president, wrote to his wife Abigail regarding the decision:

The Second Day of July 1776, will be the most memorable Epocha, in the History of America. I am apt to believe that it will be celebrated, by succeeding Generations, as the great anniversary Festival. It ought to be commemorated, as the Day of Deliverance by solemn Acts of Devotion to God Almighty. It ought to be solemnized with Pomp and Parade, with Shews, Games, Sports, Guns, Bells, Bonfires and Illuminations from one End of this Continent to the other from this Time forward forever more. You will think me transported with Enthusiasm but I am not. I am well aware of the Toil and Blood and Treasure, that it will cost Us to maintain this Declaration, and support and defend these States. Yet through all the Gloom I can see the Rays of ravishing Light and Glory. I can see that the End is more than worth all the Means. And that Posterity will tryumph in that Days Transaction, even altho We should rue it, which I trust in God We shall not. (The Book of Abigail and John: Selected Letters of the Adams Family, 1762-1784, Harvard University Press, 1975, 142).

The "toil and blood" to form this country included around 140,00 people who fought and 50,000 militiamen wounded or killed in a war that lasted over eight years. The end result was a confederation of states that soon became the United States.

While John Adams guessed wrong about the day and it was July 4 that was celebrated as early as 1777, he had the right of how we would celebrate. During the illuminations and parades and time spent with family, let us try to see the Rays of ravishing Light and Glory as we celebrate the birthday of the United States of America.