Each year on July 4, America celebrates its independence. It dates to the year 1776 when 13 American colonies adopted the Declaration of Independence, declaring their freedom from British rule.

Besides Christmas and Easter, the Fourth of July is the most significant holiday in our nation’s history. It is an historic holiday that all Americans should cherish. Only the celebration of the birth and resurrection of Jesus outshines the Fourth.

America was in its infancy when Richard Henry Lee of Virginia offered the resolution calling for the colonies to separate from England. He did it during the Second Continental Congress on June 7, 1776, in the Pennsylvania State House, later Independence Hall. It was there that Lee served up the resolution that would eventually lead to a bloody conflict against Great Britain.

A committee was formed consisting of two New England men, John Adams of Massachusetts and Roger Sherman of Connecticut; two men from the middle colonies, Benjamin Franklin of Pennsylvania and Robert Livingston of New York; and one southerner, Thomas Jefferson of Virginia. Their charge was to write a document that spelled out the independence we enjoy today, some 240 years later.

Jefferson, one of the most profound thinkers of his time, did most of the committee’s work.

After much debate the Declaration of Independence was adopted on July 4, 1776.

Today, few who celebrate the Fourth of July give little thought to why we observe the birth of our nation’s independence. Even fewer remember to tell our young people why we take a holiday to fly the American flag and eat heartily.

Freedom and independence in this day and age are taken for granted.

Some would argue that Americans now lack the moral fortitude that prompted Richard Henry Lee of Virginia to light the fuse that led to America’s struggle to stand alone, to stand free.

Without a doubt, we would be hard pressed to find a statesman today like Thomas Jefferson of Virginia, who laid the framework for independence with thoughts from his flowing pen.

Yet, since July 4, 1776, hundreds of thousands of Americans have given their blood and their lives to preserve the freedom and independence of this land. The sacrifices they’ve made are almost too great to fathom.

Despite its frailties and inequities, America remains the symbol of free and independent people throughout the world. America remains strong in spite of those who question its exceptionalism.

And America remains strong because the American people recognize freedom isn’t free.

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