Individuals have different reasons for celebrating the Fourth of July. The day may provide a much-needed day away from work or present an opportunity to host a cookout, but for many, especially seniors, the day is spent acknowledging the sacrifices made for our country to enjoy its independence.
A brief history refresher
July Fourth marks the birth of the United States. In 1776, the Continental Congress adopted the Declaration of Independence, which is when the country’s founders, including John Hancock, John Adams, Benjamin Franklin and Samuel Adams, fearlessly signed a parchment that declared independence from Great Britain. It stated the colonies should be free-free to make their own decisions and to govern themselves. They marked this momentous day with a ceremony that included a public reading of the Declaration of Independence, a parade and shooting of cannons.
The colonies accepted the risks of war to achieve their dream of becoming free and independent states. They fought the British army and after years of bloodshed this dream was realized.
The country’s freedom came at a great cost-many lost their lives in the battles to break apart from the tyranny of the king of England. Finally, almost 100 years after the Declaration was written, Congress declared July Fourth to be a national holiday. The country once again began celebrating its independence.
Finding meaning in the Fourth
For those referred to as the “greatest generation,” a term for Americans who grew up in the U.S. during the Great Depression and who fought in World War II, the battles fought for freedom so many years ago have a deeper, more personal meaning. Now seniors, this group understands the struggles and suffering the early settlers endured because they also had to pull together and overcome huge obstacles. They willingly served their country and contributed to the greatness of America-an America they proudly celebrate every Fourth of July.
Wondering how you can acknowledge the meaning behind the Fourth of July each year? Consider these easy actions:
• Celebrate the day in a meaningful way. Attend a local parade on the Fourth of July. Honor veterans by standing and clapping as they march by. Or, take time to reflect on the country’s history and its impact on everyday life.
• Demonstrate patriotism. Proudly fly an American flag at home. Reflect on the meaning of the flag-the 50 stars for the 50 states and the 13 stripes for the 13 British colonies that declared their independence in 1776.
• Start a discussion on what makes the country special. As seniors, you have so much knowledge to share. Educate grandchildren on the country’s history and how it’s unlike any other part of the world. Explain what you believe it means to be American.