Major General Livingston reminded us at the Spirit of Central that July 2nd was the date the Continental Congress declared independence. I was intrigued and researched a little more. It turns out the reason we celebrate on July 4th is that's the date the official document, the Declaration of Independence, was adopted.
It was also interesting to me that many delegates didn't sign it for another month and at least one didn't sign until 1777. Most interesting is that the British did not know for almost two months that we had made an official declaration. (See source )
So, if you are, say, John Adams, how do you celebrate such an auspicious occasion? With a letter to your wife, of course. Here is a portion of what he wrote on July 3rd:
The Second Day of July 1776, will be the most memorable Epocha, in the History of America. I am apt to believe that it will be celebrated, by succeeding Generations, as the great anniversary Festival. It ought to be commemorated, as the Day of Deliverance by solemn Acts of Devotion to God Almighty. It ought to be solemnized with Pomp and Parade, with Shews, Games, Sports, Guns, Bells, Bonfires and Illuminations from one End of this Continent to the other from this Time forward forever more.
You will think me transported with Enthusiasm but I am not. I am well aware of the Toil and Blood and Treasure, that it will cost Us to maintain this Declaration, and support and defend these States. Yet through all the Gloom I can see the Rays of ravishing Light and Glory. I can see that the End is more than worth all the Means. And that Posterity will tryumph in that Days Transaction, even altho We should rue it, which I trust in God We shall not. (See source)
Adams may have missed which day we'd enjoy our "Pomp and Parade, Shews, Games, Sports, Guns, Bells, Bonfires and Illuminations," but we're still enjoying, as he expected, such celebrations. And, as the calendar would have it, this year, on July 2nd, we participated in "solemn Acts of Devotion to God Almighty."
Those acts included recognizing that we are in this together: in the national sense, as fellow Americans, in the faith sense, as fellow Christians. Honor July 2, 3, and 4 by recognizing the unity that was known by those who declared independence 241 years ago. Honor our nation and those who helped give us lofty ideals and who have protected them by seeking the good for each other every day.
Happy Independence Days,