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.
-- John Adams, in a letter to his wife, Abigail, July 3, 1776.
Adams refers to the adoption of a resolution on the issue of Independence on July 2, 1776 by the Second Continental Congress. Although taken in secret, this action was the statement of the Colonies that they were free and independent of British rule. The Declaration of Independence itself would be adopted two days later, the date on which we celebrate this holiday. And "holiday" is a particularly apt term. Whether one thinks of July 2 or July 4 as "Independence Day," this is as close as it gets to an American "religious" holiday.
It is celebrated with its own peculiar rites and decorations -- picnics and barbecues, bunting and flags, parades and fireworks. It even has it own "carol" -- The Stars and Stripes Forever -- played on its first Independence Day 110 years ago on this day in New York.
So, here is to celebrating with "Pomp and Parade, with Shews, Games, Sports, Guns, Bells, Bonfires and Illuminations . . . "
Happy Independence Day.