However, while you are celebrating, we urge you to take a few moments to reflect on why this day - of all days - is being honored. The Fourth of July is a date steeped in an obvious history for the United States. With this in mind, we asked JU’s own Dr. Walker Blanton, an accomplished staple of the Jacksonville community and one of the most popular professors on campus to share a few thoughts on this holiday:
The Fourth of July is the most American day of the year. It is a time to celebrate our God given right to be free and remind ourselves that all it takes for evil to prevail is for the good to do nothing.
This day celebrates the final stages in the evolution of not just a document, but a philosophy which shaped the development of this country. The Declaration of Independence, while drafted by Thomas Jefferson, was actually a compilation of several documents, as well as thoughts from those in support of the cause. The final version did not include all opinions presented, but the compromises that were reached became the fundamental rules that we still hold true to this day.
When the signers put their names on the final version, they understood that they were laying their lives on the line for a cause in which they were deeply committed. In fact, so linked were the 56 signers that two of them (Jefferson and John Adams) died on the very same day in 1826. That day: July 4th.
While every year, celebrations of this event seem to become bigger and more grandiose, Independence Day is an example of a holiday that has always been a monumental event in this country. Even during the 19th century, when the country was divided leading up to the Civil War, both the north and the south continued to celebrate Independence Day in glorious fashion because they viewed themselves as Americans first.
So, this weekend we celebrate not just our freedom, but the people and actions that were essential to achieving that freedom, and we remember that despite the rises and falls that this nation has encountered and will encounter, we must remember to be grateful for the opportunity to have opportunities.