As we celebrate the 4th of July... Independence Day.
Taxation without representation! That started it all when the 13 colonies in America that were forced to pay taxes to England's King George III with no representation in Parliament.
So on June 11, 1776, the colonies' Second Continental Congress formed a committee with the express purpose of drafting a document that would formally sever their ties with Great Britain and on July 4, 1776 the document that we know as the Declaration of Independence was officially adopted by the Continental Congress.
One year later, on July 4, 1777, Philadelphia marked Independence Day by adjourning Congress and celebrating with bonfires, bells and fireworks.
The celebrations eventually spread to other towns both large and small, where the day was marked with processions, oratory, picnics, contests, games, military displays and fireworks. When the War of 1812 with Great Britain concluded the observations became even more common.
This one sentence from the Declaration of Independence, which has since become our nation's most cherished symbol of liberty, captures the spirit of the entire document...
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.
This year, 2006, we celebrate 230 years of freedom. We encourage you to consider the sacrifices our forefathers made to ensure our freedom. And we invite you to join us we celebrate this freedom... just as they did for the first observation in Philadelphia in 1777.