He told his wife in a letter that a day would be marked and 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. ” John Adams wrote these words to Abigail, with the thought that the celebration would occur on July 2, the day that the Declaration of Independence was adopted. The formalized adoption took place on July 4, just two days after, in a hot Philadelphia hall with a town that held its breath with the uncertainty of what was coming.
The people heard the news and they did celebrate with first readings of the Declaration of Independence to the Philadelphia public, replete with organized and impromptu celebrations. The first battles had already been fought; the colonies were already in a state of war. But now, it was a finalized and definitive statement that the bond between mother England and these colonies would be broken; and that these individual colonies, like a collection of the Greek poleis, would start taking the steps to form a new nation.
Today, I want to recognize the citizen soldiers who left their families, farms, businesses, and lives to stand on battlefields and fight for independence. I want to recognize those citizen soldiers who stayed at home and maintained the families, farms, and businesses so that there would be something to form the nation around, not to mention provide needed supplies. I want to recognize those who were charged with a difficult task of birthing an infant nation and doing so, with ups and downs along the way, but seeing their task through. These people, our early citizens, left a high standard for us to live up to.