Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Why John Adams wouldn't be mad about Ontario's July 3 celebration

Decades ago, when I was in the Boy Scouts, my friend and I went to play flute and drum at a Veterans Day event for a service organization. I can't remember if it was the American Legion or the Veterans of Foreign Wars or who, but whoever it was, they were pretty traditional.

You see, they celebrated Veterans Day ON VETERANS DAY. And they made a point of saying so. Even back long ago when I was a Boy Scout, Monday holidays were the rage, but not for everyone.

Of course, there are other reasons to move a holiday. In a nation where a good number of people self-identify as Christian, there is often a reluctance to celebrate on Sunday. This affects my home city of Ontario, California:

Residents will start celebrating Independence Day on July 3 with a Fourth of July parade. The celebration will begin at 9 a.m. and feature community floats and equestrian teams. Following the parade there will be a "bring your own picnic," gathering along the Euclid Avenue median.

Yes, my city is celebrating July 4 on July 3. (Although for some odd reason, the fireworks will still take place on the 4th. The fireworks take place in the newer part of Ontario, though - perhaps they're a bunch of Satan worshippers or something.)

Now I'm sure that some people are horrified about celebrating July 4 on July 3, but I imagine that John Adams wouldn't be one of them. (And not just because of his Unitarian leanings.) Because, you see, the U.S. didn't declare independence on July 4.

We declared independence on July 2 - an act that caused Adams to state:

"The second day of July 1776 will be the most memorable epoch in the history of America. I am apt to believe it will be celebrated by succeeding generations as the great anniversary festival."

Adams was wrong on his celebration date, because we ended up celebrating on July 4, the date that the final approval, with edits, was given.

By 12 of the 13 colonies. New York waited a few days to approve.

Oh, and the document wasn't signed until August 2.

By 53 of the people who approved it. Three signed later.

So if you want to choose a day to celebrate American independence, take your pick.

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