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Independence Day might be the Rodney Dangerfield of holidays

Published 8:27am Thursday, July 3, 2014

The holiday may not get the same level of attention as some of its closest relatives (you know, the ones symbolized by stuffed turkeys or chocolate bunny rabbits), but Independence Day deserves a spot as second most important of celebrations — behind only Christmas.

In fact, the Fourth of July is like the famous comedian Rodney Dangerfield when it comes to holidays. No respect.

This weekend millions of Americans will get together for parades, cookouts, fireworks displays and more. All these are important — and I am looking forward to quite a few of them myself this year — but we must not forget why any of those things are even possible.

A brave group of men, many of whom were called radicals and traitors at the time, came together to say enough is enough. A loose collection of 13 states took the first steps toward growing into America on July 4, 1776.

Of course there are lots of technicalities that cynics like to point out: Congress actually voted on July 2. The famous document never actually referred to itself as the Declaration of Independence. And it wasn’t signed until Aug. 2.

Regardless, history has determined that July 4 — the day this historic document was ratified — is when we recognize our Independence Day.

As citizens that now enjoy the freedoms that would not be possible without this effort, we should make sure not to take all the good things about our country for granted.

The talking heads and 24-hour news channels only magnify the negative aspects of our society, often drowning out many of the positive ones. Politicians on both sides of the aisle — from the highest of office to the local trustees or representatives — would be well served to reflect on what this day means and acknowledge that the 56 members of the Continental Congress who signed the Declaration of Independence had different viewpoints and ideological philosophies yet came together for a common goal of creating a better country, a place people could call home without the fear of tyranny and oppression.

Overall, that mission was accomplished. But understanding our past is important to building a better future. That starts with recognition and appreciation for the history behind the holiday.

The Fourth of July can then continue with hot dogs, floats and colorful explosions. Here is hoping that everyone has a safe and enjoyable holiday, one that mixes in a little history, too.


Michael Caldwell is the publisher of Leader Publications LLC. He can be reached at (269) 687-7700 or by email at

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