July 4 represents a significant date in American history. After years of tension with Great Britain, the American Revolutionary War began in April 1775. Initially, most American colonists did not want freedom from Britain. Most colonists simply wanted relief from what they believed to be British oppression. Thomas Paine later wrote the pamphlet “Common Sense” that argued why the colonies should no longer be governed by Great Britain and greatly influenced colonists to support the war rather than reconciling with the British monarch.

A Committee of Five was tasked with drafting the Declaration of Independence, but much of the document was penned by Thomas Jefferson. On July 4, 1776 the Second Continental Congress officially adopted the Declaration of Independence, declaring that the 13 colonies would be independent of British rule and govern themselves.

Since this historic moment, the colonies went on to win the Revolutionary War and establish the United States of America. Now the federal holiday has come to be a time of celebration with family barbecues, parades, and of course fireworks.

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The Fourth of July will look a lot different this year mainly due to social distancing and the absence of parades and other in-person gatherings. However, we should still pay tribute to those who gave the ultimate sacrifice and fought for the many freedoms we enjoy.

As this historic document says, everyone has unalienable rights including “Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”

This Fourth of July should still celebrate those freedoms that we enjoy and reflect on the work we still need to do to heal a nation and world dealing with a pandemic and inequality. As our forebearers did, we must work together to achieve peace.