Do You Know the Meaning Behind the Fourth of July

America is undoubtedly a young country. It is a nation based on the ideas of individuals. Every American presumably knows the story of how we obtained our Independence, but few take the time to think of both the implications prior to and after the Fourth of July. Understanding how those implications shaped our identity has often been taken for granted.

The Deeper Meaning of Independence

Despite throwing off British governance by the conflict, there is evidence of British influence remaining today throughout American society. Similar remarks can be made relating to Italians, Germans, Irish, Norwegians and many other European countries who moved from their home country to America. Given all the original settlers were European, it makes sense that their origins and mannerisms stem from Europe.

The basic ideas of our laws with their liberal values, such as freedom to speak and record thought, stem from the British. American religion, which was predominantly Protestant, stems from British and Dutch beliefs brought over from their homeland.

It is often easy to forget that many members of society in the original 13 Colonies still had friends and relatives in England and Europe. George Washington’s own great-grandfather was from England, and he fought with the British against the French. The war against England was not a war against the English people. It was a war for the identity of America and for what it should become.

The Importance of History

With all of this said, it is essential to turn back to the age of the country. America is a young country, a nation forged through blood and steel. Given the two hundred year time span since its conception and the nature of its conception, it is understandable that it has had to ‘catch up’ with many of the events other countries saw in their own development. Most countries at some point have a civil war or multiple civil wars, so it was inevitable that such a thing would take place here.

It could be said that the Civil War in the U.S. served multiple purposes, from a war of unification to a war of political alignment. Whatever the reason, the result both unified and readjusted politics within the country. The Civil War brought together divides that might otherwise have continued to subvert the unity of the country.

The history of the nation has done more to shape the country than people believe, and there are deep social constructions that have formed based on the actions of both peers and forefathers. It is important to remember significant events, not as things to divide and destroy the country, but for the growth opportunities they presented for the nation.

The Idea of Opportunity

The phrase, “land of opportunity,” is often taken for granted. It is true that anyone can make it in the U.S. if they have the drive to follow their ideas. Some of the first settlers came looking for this land of opportunity. It was a place where they could live their lives without the rules or regulations that might have held them back elsewhere. The individual could now determine one’s own success. Those willing to work hard soon realized this opportunity and reaped personal benefit, rather than the landowner. In England, there is the phrase, “an Englishman’s home is his castle.” Americans pay homage to that phrase in their own way. From the perspective of the American idea, “an American’s homestead is his empire,” seems more fitting.

People looking to come to this land of opportunity to make something of or for themselves has been evident throughout much of American history. It comes at the cost of personal responsibility. The idea of making it on your own steam, not riding the coattails of others, seems to be more and more the case.

When pioneers first moved west, in a land so different from the previously established coastal towns and cities, they did so in an attempt to build their homesteads. Exploring uncharted, untamed, uninhabited lands was extremely dangerous. Their self-determination lead them forward.

Others saw their opportunity in this new land by selling goods to the determined homesteaders. Whether seeking riches or a homestead, individuals were driven by results. Any benefits reaped were because they achieved it themselves, beholden to no one.

Values of a Nation

From all this, notice the values that shine through to include freedom, responsibility, and opportunity. Each of these values is embedded in the mind of every true American. It is cultivated in individuals that make up this country. America is a nation of united individuals. Each is willing to work together for the betterment of all and to realize a common dream of values.

On the anniversary of the birth of this nation, time should be taken to think about where people came from and what history they experienced to lead to the freedoms they fought for. Take a moment to consider how individual struggle and determination formed this country. Give pause to how personal responsibility gave future generations opportunities original homelands might not have allowed. Understand why its shared values give Americans past, present, and future the chance to experience freedom.

Ray Jones / Writer

I am a Proud Patriot. I have a degree in History and International Law with an interest in anthropology. I aim to make Americans realize their greatness!
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