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A Note on the 4th

By Erik Voorhees - July 4, 2010 3:23 PM

Robert R. Livingston

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As the 234th 4th arrives and passes, a prudent and reflective people should consider the meaning of the date, ponder the ramifications of the events which took place, and examine with a certain tenacity whether the goals set forth in those days have been met and maintained.

Upon such reflection, of immediate and practical alarm is the terminology now used to refer to the occasion. "Independence Day," as a moniker, is employed rarely, set aside in favor of the much more arbitrary and meaningless "4th of July." Why should this be so? Christmas is not celebrated as "December 25th" and New Year's not as "January 1st." One does not hear of the "January 1st Weekend Holiday Sale." Why, then, does a far more important date than those mentioned above - a date (amongst others) when men stood up to tyranny - become reduced to mere Gregorian arrangement?

Certainly, the explanation may be little more than circumstantial. Perhaps there is no good reason for the change in terminology other than that it "simply happened." Such a position would be more defensible, however, if the citizens of America had upheld the principles of Independence Day elsewhere in their lives and in their government. Yet such principles have not been upheld, but in fact routinely and systematically marginalized, trodden upon, and lambasted to the point where all it takes to now be considered a treasonous extremist by both the government and the public is to carry a gun, protest taxation, and proclaim under the 1st Amendment that one is doing so. Indeed, the opinions espoused by Thomas Jefferson may have, in today's America, put him in heady competition with bin Laden as enemy combatant number one.

The sad irony of today's Independence Day is that one cannot, at the same moment, hold the Declaration of Independence in high regard while also holding in high regard the State under which Americans now trudge. One cannot maintain a straight and honest demeanor while advocating the principles of limited government - so clearly enshrined in the Declaration - while also saluting the leviathan empire of the modern Federal Government. It is no less than intellectual folly to simultaneously advance the principles of liberty while giving consent or credence to the overgrown brambles that suffocate that very concept in a pattern strikingly congruent with the election cycle. Put more simply, one cannot pledge allegiance to the flag without spitting on the very ideas that made those arbitrary colored stripes of cloth worthy of respect.

The United States of America has many fitting labels, yet the one Americans hold most dear - The Land of the Free - has not been appropriate for some time. Perhaps one can then understand the subtle change in terminology for this national holiday, as it betrays a tacit admission by the citizenry that independence is no longer found in sufficiency to warrant celebration, and instead the mere historical date of past men's liberation has become adequate justification for the fireworks.

Happy Independence Day to those out there still fighting for freedom.

Erik Voorhees is a frequent commentator on political economics through his blog at and a member of The Free State Project.


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