INDEPENDENCE: What does it mean to you?

My Grandmother’s birthday was on July 4th. I grew up in my early years thinking everyone celebrated her birthday and how special she was and since mine was in January, people barely had enough money left over from Christmas for new socks. How time changes perspective!  This day in July has had various levels of meaning to me throughout the years, but a few seem to bear repeating for us now, especially as I listen to our community visit together about differences, togetherness and home.

So what actually happened on July 4th, 1776?  Let’s have some fun with a look back to see why this day means so much to us today.

  • In April of 1775 the Revolutionary War started.
  • In June of 1776 Thomas Jefferson wrote the draft of the Declaration of Independence.
  • Over the course of June, John Adams and Benjamin Franklin edited the draft Declaration.
  • July 2, 1776 the Continental Congress actually voted for Independence.
  • July 4, 1776 the final version of The Declaration of Independence was approved.
  • August 2, 1776 the Constitutional Congress Delegates signed The Declaration of Independence
  • November 1776 The Declaration of Independence was delivered to Great Britain.
  • March 1, 1781 “The United States of America” was officially created.
  • June 21, 1788 the Constitution was ratified.
  • March 4, 1789 is the effective date of the Constitutional.
  • April 30, 1789 George Washington was sworn in as first President.
  • 1870 July 4th is declared a national holiday.

BOOM! POP!! Millions display colors and loud fireworks on July 4th each year with well-worn words and music to celebrate our Independence as a nation from all others. Many know little of the history listed above or the countless sacrifices that women and men have made throughout the years so that we might have this holiday. We almost did not have our independence!  History now tells us that the war with Great Britain would have been lost except for ONE exceptional fog ONE morning in New York when General Washington was about to surrender. So many times in our history, others have tried to deny us our Independence, but American men and women have sacrificed here and abroad to insure that our flag remained high and nation remained undivided as one. Independence. It comes with a price and it is to be valued greatly with pride and humility. It is not for the weak or the arrogant. It is for those who know our history, cherish our past, and hold in stewardship our present for the future.

INDEPENDENCE! We, who live in Watermark communities, have an extra reason to celebrate this holiday. Each of us are able to live in a community that values freedom and choice. We live in a community where independence is valued, everyone is welcome and each man and woman is respected as a person of real worth and given the opportunity to thrive in their life and heart. This Independence Day, in Independence Missouri and beyond, let’s celebrate together.

By Paul H. Wilson, resident of The Fountains at Greenbriar, a Watermark community in INDEPENDENCE, Missouri.

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