July the 4th: Illuminating Independence

The flag of the United States adorns a small flower arrangement in my dining room and bits of red, white, and blue are to be seen inside and outside my house. I may even have an illumination or two. But these things are only the outward symbol of 200+ years of American history and the quest for freedom that began when the Second Continental Congress adopted the Declaration of Independence on July 2, 1776.

We celebrate the 4th day of July and not the 2nd, but as you’ll read in the following quote* written by John Adams (yes, him again) to his wife Abigail the vision for an expansive future was there from the earliest days of the Republic:

“But the Day is past. 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 the Days Transaction, even altho We should rue it, which I trust in God We shall not.”

The line, “It ought to be commemorated, as the Day of Deliverance by solemn Acts of Devotion to God Almighty,” always stands out in my mind. How often do we hear the words “solemnity” and “God Almighty” attached to 4th of July celebrations? Fireworks, yes, solemnity, not so much.

But think about the cost of human lives it has taken to maintain this country and its freedoms from the first days of the Revolution to the lives lost in Iraq and Afghanistan just recently. Not to mention the support crews on the home soil that built the boats, planes, jeeps, tanks, weapons, and other ordnance that saw us through WWII as well as every other major war? Their memory deserves more than a few moments of solemnity in the presence of God Almighty.

“Rays of Ravishing Light and Glory,” – I love these words because not only to they refer to the illuminations that we are so used to seeing on Independence Day, but they also describe the hope of opportunity, freedom of religion, and peaceful existence that America has promised to generations of immigrants from the earliest English, Scots, Welsh, Irish, German, Dutch, Spanish, and French settlers to those who still, with patience, go through all the red tape and hassle it takes to become a legally invested American citizen.

Happy 4th of July! May you see the Rays of Ravishing Light and Glory and may your 4th be solemnized by acts of Devotion to God Almighty!

– Amanda Stiver

*All quotes from Our Sacred Honor: Words of Advice from the Founders in Stories, Letters, Poems, and Speeches edited by William J. Bennett


  1. I thought this interesting – you probably already know it but a good 4th of July Tribute:) The Flag Fold:

    The ‘first fold’ of our flag is a symbol of life.

    The ‘second fold’ is a symbol of our belief in eternal life.

    The ‘third fold’ is made in honor and remembrance of the veterans departing our ranks who gave a portion of their lives for the defense of our country to attain peace throughout the world.

    The ‘fourth fold’ represents our weaker nature, for as American citizens trusting in God, it is to Him we turn in times of peace as well as in time of war for His divine guidance.

    The ‘fifth fold’ is a tribute to our country, for in the words of Stephen Decatur, “Our Country, in dealing with other countries may she always be right; but it is still our country, right or wrong.”

    The ‘sixth fold’ is for where our hearts lie. It is with our heart that we pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States Of America, and to the Republic for which it stands, one Nation under God, indivisible, with Liberty and Justice for all.

    The ‘seventh fold’ is a tribute to our Armed Forces, for it is through the Armed Forces that we protect our country and our flag against all her enemies, whether they be found within or without the boundaries of our republic.

    The ‘eighth fold’ is a tribute to the one who entered into the valley of the shadow of death, that we might see the light of day, and to honor mother, for whom it flies on Mother’s Day.

    The ‘ninth fold’ is a tribute to womanhood; for it has been through their faith, their love, loyalty and devotion that the character of the men and women who have made this country great has been molded.

    The ‘tenth fold’ is a tribute to the father, for he, too, has given his sons and daughters for the defense of our country since they were first born.

    The ‘eleventh fold’, in the eyes of a Hebrew citizen represents the lower portion of the seal of King David and King Solomon, and glorifies in their eyes, the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.

    The ‘twelfth fold’, in the eyes of a Christian citizen, represents an emblem of eternity and glorifies, in their eyes, God the Father, the Son, and Holy Spirit.

    When the flag is completely folded, the stars are uppermost reminding us of our nation’s motto, “In God We Trust”.


  2. You know. Not sure if this was blog etiquette. If you want to delete my post – I’m fine with that:) Sorry! 🙂


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