"Americans commemorate their deliverance from bondage in all its forms after years of struggle and sacrifice."
Traditionally, every July 4 has always been grandly celebrated in the United States, the world’s foremost superpower. For good reason. It is on this day, considered a federal holiday, that America commemorates its deliverance from bondage in all its forms after years of struggle and sacrifice.
Usually referred to as the Fourth of July celebrations, it is an annual celebration of the country’s declaration of independence from British rule on July 4, 1776.
While some historians contend that the said declaration was actually signed two days earlier on July 2, it has since been the consensus that the celebration be on July 4 since it was on that day that the Continental Congress openly announced that the 13 American colonies then under British rule were “no longer subject and subordinate to the British monarch King George III” and were as of that day “united, free and independent states.”
The historical significance of that declaration was best expressed by John Adams, one of the founding fathers and himself a signatory, who later became the second US President succeeding George Washington. In a letter to his wife Abigail, Adams poignantly declared:
“The second day of July 1776, will be the most memorable epoch 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 shows, games, sports, guns, bells, bonfires, and illuminations, from one end of this continent to the other, from this time forward forever more.”
Since then, the Fourth of July has been such a huge national holiday presided by no less than the US President. On that day, politics is set aside as the nation comes around together to witness the advances made since that fateful day in 1776, punctuated by a parade of colors, including at times a display of American military might and colourful fireworks in the nation’s capital. After the parades and fireworks, the traditional “Independence Day” speech of the president is broadcast ending with a dinner-concert usually attended by politicians, celebrities and foreign guests.
That tradition of “coming together” has since cascaded to every nook and cranny in the US continent with flags raised in most public buildings and even private homes. Entire communities and families participate in parades and fairs, watch fireworks and other public gatherings and celebrations after which the obligatory picnics and barbecues, games, dancing and concerts, among other outings, are de rigueur.
Last year, although COVID-19 surged across the United States, the celebrations proceeded, albeit low key and subdued. Lockdowns and other restrictions stayed in the way of any meaningful commemoration. Somehow, the fire that usually accompanied this national holiday was also blown away by the toxic political environment engendered by the heated exchanges and accusations between the contending parties as the nation raced towards the November presidential elections.
With the easing of lockdowns as vaccinations are ramped up across the entire nation we should expect a huge rebound in this year’s celebrations. Sadly, by all indications, that may not be the case. The political toxicity has worsened. Six months into the term of President Biden he and his party have been engaged in a running battle with his predecessor and the minority on almost every issue, big and small. No quarters have been given by either side to the point that even the manner by which states are to undertake their Fourth of July celebrations have been gutted by internecine battles.
Last week, President Biden was skewered no end for his seeming cavalier remarks regarding this year’s celebrations as he flippantly noted that his administration has delivered “sixteen cents” of savings for every American in time for the barbecue parties on that day. The opposition and even ordinary people went on overdrive after that noting that Biden and his
party are definitely out of touch from the realities of American life. They pointed to the huge increases in the price of gasoline, power and other basic everyday needs.
They also bewailed the seeming inability of the administration and its allies to do something about the worsening crime situation in America and were incensed by the continued surge in illegal migrants in its southern border. What has also consumed Americans is the emergent “wokeness” in media, schools and communities which is “endangering the very fabric of American life,” as one observer noted. Even the celebrated fireworks in the Mt. Rushmore memorial complex in South Dakota featuring George Washington and other respected Presidents has become a victim of this vicious political wrangling. Indeed, the toxicity has been such that up to now there are no indications of any brakes in the give and take.
This situation has, of course, engendered serious concerns in the midst of the pandemic and the continuing conflicts in many regions in the world. Doubts about America’s leadership in preserving the peace and harnessing cooperation among countries and regional blocs to enable the world to get back on its feet has been on the rise. In our corner of the world, America’s commitment to peace and stability in the region is seriously being tested with the rise of China’s profile not only as a regional power but as a global influencer in more ways than one.
Under the circumstances, while we remain hopeful that America will finally get back to its per-eminent role as a beacon for world peace and development and unite as a country for a full and festive Fourth of July celebrations it is but proper that we prepare for a new, increasingly multi polar leadership world. It is time we get out of the shadow of America’s tight embrace and venture like most of our ASEAN neighbours in slowly but surely loosening the umbilical cords of bondage and slavish sacrifice.