What does the Declaration of Independence Mean to You and Your Kids?


By Cynthia Marple


No doubt, everyone is looking forward to having a ton of fun on July 4th. Most folks have that day off from work, summer school and day camps are closed. There will be tons of festivals all over the area. A quick search for fireworks near me or fireworks in Houston brings back dozens of results.


The day will end with one of my all-time favorite things – FIREWORKS! I still remember wearing my pajamas, sitting on the hood of my mom’s brown station wagon and staring at the explosions of color. The best ones looked like falling sprinkles.


Let’s take a few minutes to remember why this day is so important. On July 4, 1776, America’s founders declared our independence from Great Britain by issuing the Declaration of Independence, quoted in part below:


When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.


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.


The language is “antiquated” by modern day blogging standards. Yet, these words give me chills. The standard of equality proclaimed inspires me to walk a mile in the shoes of person I think is nothing like me. To strive to be independent from both external and internal oppression while also not oppressing others or violating just laws. With the divisive political and social climate swirling in the US today, re-reading the Declaration of Independence has renewed a sense hope in me for the future of the United States (US).


The Revolutionary War between the US and Great Britain started in April of 1775. The formal declaration did not end the war, but it solidified support in the thirteen original US states to continue fighting. The war raged on until the Treaty of Paris was signed on September 3, 1783. It is interesting that the day we celebrate as Independence Day is the day we declared our desire to be free not the date of the treaty ensuring that freedom. Do your kids know that? Share the Declaration of Independence story with them and other interesting facts about the American Revolution in an age appropriate manner.


In 1870, the U.S. Congress declared 4th of July to be a Federal holiday. Cook-outs, festivals and fireworks are wonderful, don’t get me wrong, but I think it is worth taking fifteen minutes away from the party to re-read the Declaration of Independence. Think about what those words mean to you and your kids today.


The Declaration of Independence, on a personal level, means I do not always  just “go with the flow.” Nor do I force everyone around me to be exactly like me. The US is a nation full of many types of people and that diversity is wonderful.


So this Fourth of July, put on your red, white and blue to go out and celebrate the US and the courage to be independent! I’ll let my kids eat too many hot dogs and Popsicles, but I’ll also sneak in some teaching moments about how our country became independent. Then, of course, we will all stay up way too late to watch fireworks.


Hope everyone in the Houston area has a great 4th of July. Play some unabashedly patriotic songs. Go watch some fireworks that look like sprinkles in the sky! Tell me about your family’s favorite ways to enjoy the 4th of July holiday in the comments below.


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