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The Fourth of July is celebrated with great enthusiasm each year by the Americans to make the independence of the nation from the Kingdom of Great Britain. Traditionally, the holiday is celebrated in America with fireworks, barbecues, games, parades, and family reunions, etc…
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Meaning of Fourth of July The Fourth of July is celebrated with great enthusiasm each year by the Americans to make the independence of the nation from the Kingdom of Great Britain. Traditionally, the holiday is celebrated in America with fireworks, barbecues, games, parades, and family reunions, etc. With the passage of time, Fourth of July has become more about celebrating the holiday than about embracing the American independence. Though the American population celebrates the day with great vigor and patriotism, the younger generation lacks the knowledge of the true meaning of the Fourth of July.
Frederick Douglass defined the celebration of the Fourth of July from the point of view of an African American in his 1852 speech at Rochester, New York. At that time, slavery of African Americans was at its peak and he was the first to address the feelings true of an American Slave toward the celebration of Fourth of July as he sees t as “mere bombast, fraud, deception, impiety, and hypocrisy […covering] up crimes which would disgrace a nation of savages” (Douglass).
The Declaration of Independence was not only about getting independence from the Kingdom of Great Britain but was also about freedom, equality, and liberty. The members of the Continental Congress firmly believed that “all men are created equal” and thus have certain “unalienable rights” including those of “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness” (Digital History). They made it clear in the declaration that it is the responsibility of the government to secure these rights of every American citizen and should a government fail to do so, or becomes a threat itself, the people have the right to “alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government”(Digital History). These are the foundations that were laid by the forefathers of America and this is where the true meaning of Fourth of July lies.
In a study conducted by the National Assessment of Educational Progress in 2011, it was found that only 25 per cent of fourth grade students were aware of the purpose of Declaration of Independence while 26 per cent of the total adults surveyed by a public opinion institute were not aware of the fact that America gained independence from the Kingdom of Great Britain (Shammas). It is clear from this survey that the true spirit of Fourth of July is dying.
For me, Fourth of July is still about freedom, liberty, and pursuit of happiness not just for myself, but for all the Americans. Unfortunately, the speech made by Frederick Douglas is still true today as not all Americans have these rights today. Many minorities are still a victim of hate crimes, such as Muslims. Since the attacks of September 11, all American Muslims have been stereotyped and more than a decade later is still facing difficulty in settling in (Smith). Similarly, the fundamental rights of the Americans are being gradually taken away by the government under the disguise or “safety from terrorism”. In order to prevent terrorism in the country, the government has introduced many laws that allow the government to take away the freedom and liberty of the citizens on mere suspicion without evidence (Kennedy and Kennedy). The Americans today are not as free as we were two decades ago. It is important to restore these rights for every American citizen and revive the spirit of Fourth of July by educating the younger generation about the true spirit of the holiday.
Works Cited
Digital History. "The Declaration of Independence as Adopted by the Second Continental Congress." 4 July 1776. Digital History. 5 July 2012 .
Douglass, Frederick. "The Meaning of July Fourth for the Negro ." 1852. History is a Weapon. 5 July 2012 .
Kennedy, James Ronald and Walter Donald Kennedy. Why Not Freedom!: Americas Revolt Against Big Government. Pelican Publishing, 2005.
Shammas, B. "Some SW Floridians seek July 4 meaning beyond fireworks, parades ." 4 July 2012. Naples News. 5 July 2012 .
Smith, Janet. "Anti-Muslim Hate Crime Rash Reported Around 9/11 Anniversary." 16 September 2011. Southern Poverty Law Center. 5 July 2012 . Read More
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