Having mixed feelings about celebrating liberty today? Here’s an excerpt from a letter from John Adams to his wife on July 3, 1776:
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.
That’s good enough for me. We’ll read the Declaration of Independence, grill three kinds of meat, hand sparklers to children who have no business wielding sparklers, and set off all the gloriously-named fireworks we can afford.
We’ll serve frozen ham balls to all our doggy guests. We’ll secretly be relieved that the grass is way too dry to even consider lighting Brillo pad fire wheels of spectacular death.We’ll open up that lovely, heavy carton from the liquor store.
We’ll spend the other 364 days of the year reflecting, brooding, maybe mourning what we’ve lost, maybe strategizing about how to regain what we once fought to win.
But today? Ring a bell! Light a bonfire! Run around, make a fuss, live it up! John Adams says so. We spend a lot of time discussing what our founding fathers intended for our country, and what they would say if they were alive today. And here it is: have a damn party. It’s good to be an American.