by Ben Kinchlow        It's the 4th of July... a holiday! Cookouts, picnics, amusement parks, parades with jugglers, clowns, and marching bands, ice-cream cones, hotdogs, popcorn, and upset stomachs. Ballgames, naps, then a mad dash to get a good seat for the fireworks orchestrated by "Boom Boom Bonderelli", pyrotechnician extraordinaire! Excited chatter on the way home, holding the youngest who has somehow slept through the grand finale, baths, and bed. Whew! Another 4th of July bites the dust.

       Question? Hey, what's the 4th of July about anyway? Did it have any meaning besides watermelon, "a couple of cold ones", a chance to "q" on the backyard grill? It most certainly wouldn't have anything to do with God, would it? I wonder how many have actually read the document that prompts the celebration?

        "Oh, I think it has something to do with America, and I believe they call the 4th "Independence Day", but I'm not sure why. Somebody said it had something to do with "red coats and minute men", but whatever it was happened a long time ago, and all the people are dead now, so it doesn't really matter."

       But, of course, you know better, don't you?

       You know what the Fourth of July is really all about, and why John Adams said to his wife, Abigail... "I am apt to believe that it (the Fourth of July) 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."

       And you will, of course, understand what Samuel Adams meant when he declared as the "Declaration of Independence" was being signed... "We have this day restored the Sovereign to Whom all men ought to be obedient. He reigns in heaven, and from the rising to the setting of the sun, let His kingdom come."

       You understand why for decades the Fourth of July was celebrated like Christmas... as a great religious holiday-Christmas, as the birthday of the Savior who brought salvation, deliverance, and freedom to all men everywhere-and the Fourth of July, as the birthday of America, where freedom became a God-ordained constitutional right for its citizens.

       On July 2, 1776, the Continental Congress approved the wording; on July 4, 1776, the delegates voted to accept it and declare America's independence from Great Britain; and on July 8, 1776, the Declaration of Independence was read in public for the first time outside Independence Hall in Philadelphia to the ringing of the Liberty Bell.

       On August 2, 1776, the members of Congress signed the parchment. "...We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal; that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights; that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness... with a firm reliance on the protection of Divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes, and our Sacred Honor.

       Consider this...

        "I sought for the key to the greatness and genius of America in her harbors; in her fertile fields and boundless forests; in her rich mines and vast world commerce; in her public school system and institutions of learning. I sought for it in her democratic Congress and in her matchless Constitution.

       Not till I went into the churches of America and heard her pulpits flame with righteousness did I understand the secret of her genius and power.

       America is great because America is good, and if America ever ceases to be good, America will cease to be great.

       The safeguard of morality is religion, and morality is the best secret of law as well as the surest pledge of freedom. The Americans combine the notions of Christianity and of liberty so intimately in their minds that it is impossible to make them conceive of one without the other..." *

        "... One nation under God, with liberty..."

        "God Bless America!"

       P.S. Happy Fourth of July!!

       * Alexis de Tocqueville, Democracy In America