Today we celebrate Independence Day. Around the country, we do it in many ways – with a picnic, hot dogs, a parade, fireworks, a family reunion or a concert. For some, perhaps most or all of the above. For others, it may just be a quiet day off from work.
However we do it, we ought to pause to remember what the real observance is all about. Independence Day commemorates the adoption on July 4, 1776 of the Declaration of Independence from the Kingdom of Great Britain.
The 13 colonies actually approved a resolution of independence on July 2, but the formal document, put together by a committee of five led by Thomas Jefferson, was debated and approved two days later.
Although the day was celebrated in different ways almost from the beginning, it did not become a national holiday for federal employees until 1870.
Independence Day is a time to remind ourselves of the things our government does to make our lives safer and better, from protecting us from our enemies to helping with natural disasters.
Our government helps keep our air clear and our water safe to drink, our highways maintained and new ones constructed, our food inspected, our public schools open and funded and our police and fire departments with good equipment. The list goes on and on.
In Mississippi, being one of the nation’s poorer states, we are particularly fortunate to receive more than $3 in aid for every $1 in tax we pay to the federal government. It’s a principal reason our state and local taxes are so much lower than in many other states.
So happy Independence Day as we celebrate America and its democratic government. Fly your flag proudly.