Happy Independence Day! Whenever the Fourth of July comes around, I always happily seek out the musical “1776”. Much to my husband’s dismay, I know (and gloriously sing) almost every song, imagining myself right there (in a musical version of achieving independence) with John & Abigail Adams, Benjamin Franklin, Thomas & Martha Jefferson, and the rest of the patriots who labored to create our glorious nation. I also flip channels between the national concert in Washington, DC and the one in Massachusetts by the Boston Pops. (On a personal note, does it bother anyone else that sometimes the TV stations shut off the program BEFORE the end of John Philip Sousa’s Stars and Stripes Forever? Please, PBS, let the song run to the very end!)
But most of all, I treasure the many traditions demonstrated throughout our great country by communities, large and small, urban and rural, in honoring the United States of America. Having resided in multiple states over my lifetime before settling in Western New York, I have truly enjoyed and been personally inspired by how our fellow Americans opt to celebrate our country’s Independence Day. According to our nation’s second President, John Adams, “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 and sports, guns, bells, bonfires and illuminations, from one end of this continent to the other, from this time forward, forevermore." Whether with backyard cook-outs, county rodeos, picnics, boat races, concerts, or special faith-based services which commemorate our love of God and love of country, we Americans surely do love to celebrate our Fourth of July holidays.
Perhaps we need to also stop and consider that the words, “One nation, under God”, form an integral, fundamental component of our nation’s history as well as a key phrase later added into our Pledge of Allegiance. Continental Congress documents frequently cited the importance of publicly acknowledging the providence of God, and a review of other historical writings since then have offered countless citations from our nation’s history which affirm the founding patriots’ beliefs in, and commitment to, God as our Supreme Being.
During your Independence Day festivities this holiday, why not search the Internet and your own library with your family and read through original writings of Thomas Jefferson and other colonial patriots to ascertain exactly what was actually intended by the phrase “separation of church and state”? Take time to fully appreciate the principles, values, and freedoms of Americans over the past 241 years since that awesome yet humbling day in Philadelphia, when on July 4, 1776 the Second Continental Congress unanimously adopted the Declaration of Independence, in which they heartily included the words, “with a firm reliance on the protection of divine Providence”, or in other words, “One Nation, Under God”.
Nancy P. Askins, PhD, CMQ/OE is an American Society for Quality (ASQ) Certified Manager of Quality / Organizational Excellence serving as executive director of the Center of Renewal Retreat & Conference Center at Stella Niagara since 2005. Dr. Askins’ scholarly research focuses on core values, mission integration, and performance excellence.