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Is July 4th Really Independence Day?



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From left are bugler Roger Spitz, Roger Wise, Elena Matchen, Paul Prescott, Bill Kabel, Vesta Smith and John Mortison. (click for larger version)
June 30, 2014
ALPHARETTA, Ga. – With July 4 on the horizon, countless Americans look forward to displays of fireworks all over the nation to celebrate Independence Day. We grill hot dogs, eat apple pie and light sparklers in revelry, but many Americans may not know that July 4 might not actually be the nation's day of true independence.

The American Heritage Society of Georgia gathered at Alpharetta City Hall Tuesday, June 24 to present a historical, educational celebration of its "Understanding the Foundation of America" series. This particular segment highlighted the details of the writing and circumstances of the Declaration of Independence.

"The Declaration of Independence didn't just happen," said Vietnam veteran Bill Kabel. "There were a lot of little incidents that collectively had an impression on Americans. Ultimately, these incidents led to the Declaration of Independence."

Kabel refreshed the audience's memory on taxes like the Sugar Act and the Stamp Act that contributed to American unrest over taxation without representation. In 1766, when England's Parliament passed the Declaratory Act in a show of dominance over the colonies, discontent grew among Americans. American resistance to Parliament's displays of authority eventually resulted in the Boston Massacre in 1770.

Several more acts by Parliament brought about the first Continental Congress, the inception of the idea for American independence.

"Think what would have happened with a little understanding from Parliament, how different things would be today" said Kabel. "But that was not forthcoming."

As the American founding fathers continued to gather, they were challenged to create a document that would persuade all Americans to join the cause for the nation's liberation. The Declaration of Independence was born. A common misconception about this historical document, however, feeds back to the very date on which we celebrate our independence.

Many Americans are under the impression that the Declaration of Independence was signed on July 4, which is not true. Independence was passed July 2, and the wording of the Declaration of Independence was approved July 4; the document would not be signed by every participant until several years later.

Regardless of the date it happens, having an "official" day of independence is necessary to give American citizens an opportunity to unite in celebration and appreciation of liberty.

To learn more about the American Heritage Society of Georgia and its upcoming educational segments, visit www.AmericanHeritageSocietyofGeorgia.com.

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