The Fourth of July could well be termed our day of national pride.
We unfurl our American flags; attend parades; endure politicians; dress up in our favorite red-white-and-blue whatever; and, of course, we set off or watch fireworks like there is no tomorrow.
Here in Northern California we are usually favored with warm climates and, according to forecasters, this year should be no exception. It is a true summer holiday where we just kind of let loose and unwind.
Amid all the hoopla, however, we should reserve a bit of time for considering both the reason for the holiday and to remember those who represent us in the world.
As has been the case for nearly a decade, we are mired in foreign conflict and our military troops have been placed in harm's way as they represent us. We owe a debt of gratitude to both them and their families for their willingness to sacrifice so that we can freely celebrate our nation's birth.
But we should not forget that the birth itself was replete with sacrifice as well.
It was 236 years ago that 13 upstart American Colonies changed the world by declaring their independence from Great Britain. The British, of course, took considerable umbrage to that declaration and a difficult and brutal war dragged on for eight years.
Before it was done, that conflict morphed into what was essentially a global war as France, the Netherlands and Spain joined the U.S. in varying degrees to battle
Today is the day we set aside to celebrate the birth of our nation because it is the day in 1776 when the signing process of the Declaration of Independence began. But the actual declaring of independence had been done two days before on July 2 when the Second Continental Congress voted in favor of a resolution of independence offered by Richard Henry Lee of Virginia.
In fact, no less a founding luminary than John Adams wrote on July 3 to his wife, Abigail, "The second day of July, 1776, will be the most memorable epoch in the history of America. I am apt to believe that it will be celebrated by succeeding generations as the great anniversary festival."
While Adams was wrong on the date, he nailed the celebration part.
The holiday is one of the most widely celebrated in the nation. Parades, festivals, pancake breakfasts and patriotic events of all varieties will dot the East Bay's landscape. Fireworks will be in abundance throughout the area.
But the road to independence has not been an easy one. It did not just magically happen with the signing of a document.
We have had to endure not one but two bloody and nasty wars with Great Britain, a devastating war among ourselves, two world wars and countless other challenges along the way.
Unfortunately, there remain many threats to our independence as a nation, both from without and within. As we celebrate today, we should be mindful of the sacrifices that have been made so that we might freely express our national pride.