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On July 3, 1776, John Adams wrote a letter to his wife, Abigail, after the signing of the Declaration of Independence July 2 in Philadelphia. Perhaps you’ve read it before; I invite you to experience it newly today. An excerpt from it reads, in its original spelling:
“Had a Declaration of Independency been made seven Months ago, it would have been attended with many great and glorious Effects ….
But on the other Hand, the Delay of this Declaration to this Time, has many great Advantages attending it…
Time has been given for the whole People, maturely to consider the great Question of Independence and to ripen their judgments, dissipate their Fears, and allure their Hopes…
So that the whole People in every Colony of the 13, have now adopted it, as their own Act. — This will cement the Union, and avoid those Heats and perhaps Convulsions which might have been occasioned, by such a Declaration Six Months ago.
But the Day is past. 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.”
Exquisite. What is most present for me after reading this text again is that the state of independence – whatever that means for an individual – is not an easy thing to achieve. It is not a “default setting,” by any means. While in many ways the very cheer of, “Happy Independence Day,” has devolved into a catch phrase of sorts – one which I am equally at hand in perpetuating; I mean; hey, I want to just chill out with a burger, potato salad and a nice beer as much as the next guy – I would be remiss if I didn’t at least stop and take stock of the significance of the day.
Our forefathers provided so much – much more than could ever be repaid or even truly known – and my belief is that it honors their lives’ work, their accomplishments and their memory to stop and ask myself the simple question, “What does independence mean to me?” Or, “From what am I declaring my independence?” Immediately, I bring to mind several non-serving habits, various ways of being I’d rather not have, and the nagging feeling that I should contribute in larger ways with my life than I am currently doing.
Why have I not addressed each of those “declarations of independence,” so to speak? Why have I not yet taken the steps to handle each of these items for myself? Well, for one thing, it wouldn’t be easy! It would really require something of me. As I stop for a moment and contemplate the immense significance of Independence Day, and I read again John Adams’ words, “I am well aware of the Toil and Blood and Treasure, that it will cost Us to maintain this Declaration,” I can see that if our forefathers were willing to put that much on the line for the grandeur of what they believed in so that each of us can enjoy this blessed life as Americans, I can certainly suck it up and commit to “declaring independence,” in my own unique way from all which I am most interested in being independent from. After all, even as John Adams could clearly see, “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. “
I wish true independence today for you and your loved ones, whatever that means to you. I also wish for you the conviction and enthusiasm to carry out your plan.
Joel J. Loquvam
Attorney At Law
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