Happy Independence Day! Today marks the 235th anniversary of the day in 1776 on which the United States of America collectively and formally declared their independence from the British crown, which we commemorate with fireworks, parades, and all manner of patriotic displays. To some extent, our selection of July 4 as the date to celebrate is fairly arbitrary; Richard Henry Lee's resolution proclaiming the Colonies' separation from England was adopted by the Second Continental Congress on July 2, the day John Adams initially believed would be honored by later generations of Americans, and the document declaring American independence, while dated two days later, was not signed for almost another month thereafter. In any case, declaring independence was largely a symbolic act; independence was not actually achieved at least until the battle of Yorktown in 1781, or, arguably, until the Treaty of Paris was signed by John Adams, Benjamin Franklin, John Jay, and the representative of the British crown on September 3, 1783. That treaty, which acknowledged the former Colonies as sovereign, free, and independent States, was ratified by the United States in January 1784, and by the British the following April. Take your pick regarding the proper date to celebrate, but there are any number of anniversaries with a better claim to being the birthday of our country than the Fourth of July.
Still, just as we have plenty of reason to believe that Jesus was born on a date other than December 25, we nevertheless have chosen a date to commemorate for symbolic purposes, and so it is with Independence Day and July 4. Consequently, we pause this day to honor the courage, dedication, persistence, and principles of our Founding Fathers, recalling always that many different days served---and continue to serve---as milestones in the American saga, but nevertheless paying special attention to this one as the one on which we remember not just those who sacrificed for our country, but those ideals and objectives for which their sacrifices were, and are, made.
God bless America. You may consider this your Independence Day open comment thread, to do with as the spirit moves you.