The two longest surviving signatories of the Declaration of Independence, John Adams and Thomas Jefferson, both of whom went on to become US Presidents died on the same day in 1826. James Munroe, another Founding Father and also a subsequent president, died on the same day, this time in 1831. Calvin Coolidge, the 30th President of the United States, was born on the same day in 1872. Yes, although it’s too good to be true, these events involving giants of US democracy all took place on this day, 4th July. Independence Day.
In 1776, Adams, Jefferson and fifty-four others signed their names alongside the best-known, most powerful sentence in the English language: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.” What a statement. What a sentence. What a magnificent use of language.
Two hundred and forty one years later the US is still a beacon that lights the world. Not in every action or deed, but in its unshakeable desire to be the greatest ambassador for freedom anywhere in the world.
It is a wonderful country, full of wonderful people. I am very proud to have visited many parts of the States and consider it to be a home from home. Dr J and I honeymooned there and we took Miss J for her first overseas trip (not counting the hop across the Irish Sea she had done many times) last year. Like all places it has its ups and its down; its great leaders and its Donald Trumps. But regardless of its moments of madness and despair, it is something very, very special.
The document signed on this day in 1776 set a high moral bar for subsequent generations to aspire to follow on its own shores and for millions around the world to copy. It did more than turn its back on its regal rulers from this side of the Atlantic. It started a journey which took many twists and turns and is still incomplete – deliberately incomplete – as it constantly strives to complete a more perfect union of it states and people.
Today, the US takes a breath, has a day’s national holiday and pats itself on the back. It’s a well-deserved moment of satisfaction. A well-earned day of rest. God bless, America. Happy birthday, America.
The photo was taken by me from a window of our apartment in Boston – Charles Street – during our holiday last year.