By now your Fourth of July celebrations are over, and more than likely they focused on family, fun, perhaps a parade and fireworks.
July 4, 1776 became the day we officially declared freedom from England when the Declaration of Independence was signed.
By an amazing coincidence, on July 4, 1826, the only two signers of the Declaration of Independence who become President, John Adams and Thomas Jefferson, both died on the same day: exactly 50 years after they made history.
But at first, we didn't celebrate the nation's official independence from England on the exact same day.
The Declaration of Independence was developed over many weeks. It passed the Constitutional Congress on July 2. The signers took turns adding their names on July 4. It wasn't until July 8 that Philadelphia held the first celebration.
It took another day, until July 9 for the army under George Washington, deployed for battle near New York City and already two years into fighting the British, to get the news.
And it wasn't until August 10 that Georgia finally got word of the signing of the Declaration of Independence and the birth of our nation.
The British finally heard on August 30 that their rebellious colonies had made it official: no more taxation without representation, no more submission to the rulings of a far-away king.
From then on, the government of the new United States of America would receive its power from the consent of the people - a completely bold and new form of government.
Back in 1776, the first independence celebrations lasted the entire summer and that means we can continue to celebrate the meaning of July 4 after all the barbeques and family reunions have ended.
Even though public trust in our government officials is at one of its lowest point in history, we can still be proud of the unique government our founders created 238 years ago, when they declared to the world that life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness is everyone's God-given right.
WTVM Editorial Committee
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