"Yesterday the greatest question was decided which ever was debated in America; and a greater perhaps never was, nor will be, decided among men. A resolution was passed without one dissenting colony, that these United Colonies are, and of right ought to be, free and independent States.". -John Adams, in a letter to his wife, Abigail.
As an eighth grade Social Studies teacher in Ohio, I get the honor of teaching 13 and 14 year olds about how America came to be. This of course includes discussion of the 4th of July and the Declaration of Independence.
Every year as I retell the stories of those brave founding fathers and signers of the DOI I think, wow, there is no way they would ever know how important this day would be.
Did you know that our Independence Day was almost July 2nd?? That's right. The Second Continental Congress actuall voted for independence from Britain on July 2nd, but they had to make final revisions to the DOI so it was not ready until the 4th, thus the day we recognize as Independence Day.
John Adams even said this about July 2nd. Amazing how close his description is to what we do today to celebrate!
"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 shows, games, sports, guns, bells, bonfires, and illuminations, from one end of this continent to the other, from this time forward forevermore."
So on this 4th of July, Happy Birthday, America! And here's to many more.