Why We Celebrate the 4th of July2018-07-03
Starting with a little history lesson, Southern Utah University President Scott L Wyatt recently shared his thoughts on Independence Day and how we can best celebrate this Nation under God.
On the afternoon of July 2, Richard Henry Lee’s resolution for independence was adopted. The delegates took up the statement we now know as the Declaration of Independence, debated it for two days, and then adopted it on July 4, 1776.
“The Declaration can be described in three groups; the middle section presents their grievances, the ‘train of abuses’ to a ‘candid world.’ The final paragraph restates Lee’s resolution, the act already committed—that these United Colonies are, and of right ought to be, free and independent States . . . absolved from all allegiance to the British Crown.’”
President Wyatt notes the first group of words—the first two paragraphs of the Declaration—as the most interesting:
“These words are commonplace today, but in 1776—self-evident? There was not a single country in the world where all men were considered equal. There was not a government based on the consent of the governed. There was not a country in the world where the government’s stated purpose—was the promotion of Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness—of its people. There was not a group of people empowered electing their head of state.”
So, why do we celebrate the 4th of July rather than the 2nd?
“I like to think the answer is because on the 2nd of July we said who we were NOT—subjects of King George who were governed by ‘divine right.’ But on the 4th of July we said who we ARE—a nation of people aspiring to equality and liberty. On July 4, 1776, fifty-six of our best and brightest men put to paper the revolutionary ideals that would lead us on a never-ending journey toward equality and liberty.”
“Some countries celebrate the anniversary of military assaults or victories that lead to their independence. In America, we celebrate a day of words. We celebrate what was in the minds and hearts of the people. On July 4, 1776, something much greater happened than mere independence.”
“In this time of divisiveness, may I suggest the best way to celebrate America’s founding is to remember our original words—words of inclusion, not divisiveness—and strive to make them so in the ‘land of the free and home of the brave!’"
Scott L Wyatt is Southern Utah University’s 16th president. He is familiar with the media and available for an interview. Simply visit his profile.