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What is Independence Day?

By JeanAnn Taylor

Independence Day is a federal holiday commemorating the Declaration of Independence of the United States. On July 4, 1776, the Continental Congress declared that the thirteen American colonies were no longer subject to the monarch of Britain and were now united, free, and independent states.

There were several key factors that led the Patriots of the thirteen original colonies to fight for freedom. The colonists were heavily taxed by Britain to pay for previous wars and imported goods. These taxes were imposed on them by Parliament—not by colonial governments. The needs and ideas of the colonists were unheard and unrepresented. Colonists were required to worship by the standards set in Britain—not by their own beliefs. To further control and contain the colonists, they were not allowed to move west of the Appalachian Mountains. To impose this unfavored law, British soldiers were stationed in America; colonists were forced to allow them to eat and sleep in their homes. Primarily, because colonists wanted to govern themselves, make their own choices, and live their own lives—they fought for their freedom.

As frustrations of British control grew, violence ensued. The British responded with the “Intolerable Acts” proclamation. This punishment led the colonists to form militias, which led to the eight-year long Revolutionary War. The result was American independence.

To celebrate our freedom, to honor those who fought for our freedom, and to pay respect to the 25,000 who died for our freedom, we have for the last 244 years enjoyed picnics and parades; we’ve attended baseball games and outdoor concerts; we’ve eaten hotdogs and ice cream; and we’ve stayed up late to watch fireworks. This year will be different. Already, as I write this piece in May, Independence Day celebrations have been canceled. While everything about our lives has changed, it’s important to remember why we celebrate. We celebrate our freedom because without freedom, we have nothing.

This July 4, it’s more important than ever to hang a flag on our front porch; wear red, white, and blue clothing; sing our National Anthem; and ponder on the reasons why we are so fortunate to live in America—lest we forget that freedom isn’t free.


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