The celebration of America's birthday is always an exciting event, but this year it may be a wee bit louder and last a hair longer with July 4 falling, as it does, on a Friday.
For most of us, that sets up an opportunity for a three-day weekend of flags, parades, speeches, picnics, red-white-and-blue regalia and, of course, fireworks. In most places sunscreen and proper hydration are the order of the day to ensure safe expression of our national pride.
But in all places a proper celebration also demands a modicum of respect and understanding of the reason we celebrate -- the birth of our nation.
It was 238 years ago that 13 American colonies changed the world by declaring independence from Great Britain.
Bemused by the temerity of the upstart colonists, Britain's King George III took considerable umbrage to that declaration and dispatched thousands of well-trained and well-equipped troops to "quickly" squelch the rebellion.
That was easier said than done. Rebellion-squelching turned to a torturous war that dragged on for eight years.
Before it was done, the conflict morphed into what essentially was a global war as France, the Netherlands and Spain -- all significant powers -- joined the U.S. in varying degrees to battle the mighty British.
Today is set aside to celebrate that day in 1776 when the signing process of the Declaration of Independence began. But the actual declaring of independence had been done two days prior on July 2 when the Second Continental Congress approved a resolution of independence offered by Richard Henry Lee of Virginia.
In fact, no less a founding luminary than John Adams wrote July 3, 1776, to his beloved wife, Abigail, "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."
Adams was wrong on the date, but he nailed the celebration part.
And while celebration is in order, it is important to remember that the road to independence did not magically happen with the signing of a document.
We must honor the sacrifices for our freedom that were made in those early days and the many, many times since.
We remain a great nation, but this Fourth of July we continue to be mired in foreign conflicts, and many of those who have courageously served are having difficulty getting delivered the benefits they have earned. That's shameful.
Let us issue our own declaration that this is the year we will come together to fix that atrocity. We can think of no better way to express our gratitude to them. Happy Fourth of July.