Reflecting on the Fourth of July
The Fourth of July is an opportunity to reflect on our history.
John Adams, the second President of the United States, assisted Thomas Jefferson in drafting the Declaration of Independence in 1776. He was its primary advocate in Congress. In a letter written to his wife Abigail two days before the wording had been finalized, he suggested that:
The second day of July 1776 will be the most memorable epoch in the history of America. I am apt to believe that it 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. It ought to be solemnized with pomp and parade, with shows, games, sports, guns, bells, bonfires, and illuminations, from one end of this continent to the other, from this time forward forever more. (Congress voted to approve independence by passing the Lee Resolution on July 2 and adopted the Declaration of Independence two days later, on July 4.)
Yes, as John Adams predicted, we do celebrate in America, with parades, games, fireworks and now, unfortunately, with too many guns.
I was in Portsmouth at the end of June and had an opportunity to take long walks through Strawberry Bank and along the shore. This year, 2023, Portsmouth celebrates the 400th anniversary of its founding. The May 2023 issue of New Hampshire magazine featured a fascinating article about the history of Portsmouth that begins:
“We’ve been bending reality for centuries. Our founding English couple, David and Amias Thompson, landed at what is now the town of Rye in 1623. But they soon moved to Boston. Seven years later what we now call Portsmouth began as a mining colony. Captain John Mason, the so-called ‘father of New Hampshire,’ also hoped the Piscataqua River might be the fabled waterway through the continent to the riches of the orient.
When no valuable metals, precious stones or Northwest passage appeared, Mason dropped dead, and his investors panicked. They shut down the company and abandoned the Strawberry Bank colonists 3,000 miles from home.”
I encourage you to read the story (certain you can find a copy at the Laconia Public Library) and learn more about our coastal city. When we reflect on history, we recognize that nothing is ever smooth. Building a Democrary is a challenge, considering the diversity that surrounds us and our desire to let all voices be heard and recognized.
Putting history aside, I think of fireworks and food when I think about the “fourth”. It’s an opportunity to study cookbooks and issues of summer magazines to discover a new recipe. Soups are chilled, with cucumber a favorite. Beets, chilled and served in a salad, are one of my favorites. The smell of smoke hovering over a grill as meat, that has been marinated with seasoning, is grilling. That first taste of raspberry pie made with raspberries picked earlier in the day and served with vanilla ice cream brings a smile.
Now that we are into the month of July the summer begins to melt away. Take a moment to think about your freedom during these long, warm days and enjoy every moment, from early morning until the sunset in the evening. Listen to the birds as they wake us in the morning and the crickets as they lull as to sleep in the evening.