As of Saturday, July 8, 2017
After the Declaration of Independence was adopted July 4, 1776, John Adams wrote this note to his wife, Abigail: “I am apt to believe that [the signing] 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 shews, games, sports, guns, bells, bonfires and illuminations from one End of this Continent to the other from this time forward forever more…”
Instead of choosing to honor a national tradition, The Fort Dalles Fourth Committee chose this year to go in a different direction. On July 4 there were no flags flying in our downtown streets and there was very little activity.
Compare the sterile scene in The Dalles to the Independence Day festivities in nearby Hood River, which included a parade, firemen’s barbecue, run/walk, bounce houses, face painting, fireworks and much more.
What happened in The Dalles? The Fort Dalles Fourth decided to honor America’s 241st birthday on July 1 instead of July 4.
The stated rationale for the change was that holding events on a weekend would draw more visitors and money into town.
Economics does not trump patriotism when it comes to observing a day that all Americans should revere. July 4 is the time for people across the county to remember the blood, sweat and toil that went into freeing our nation from British oppression. Because our founders took that great risk, we get to live in freedom and seek happiness and prosperity.
Before we go further here, we want to stress that the Fort Dalles Fourth is to be commended for the hard work of its members to fundraise and organize a concert and other activities each year in July.
In a day and age when it is tough to get volunteers to step up and lend their time and talents to a cause, the Fort Dalles Fourth sets a shining example of what can be done when community members band together.
However, the Chronicle joins the majority of respondents to an informal local survey in the opinion that the Fort Dalles Fourth strayed from its mission in 2017. The organization formed several years ago to restore the July 4 (hence their name) festivities that had gone by the wayside a couple of decades earlier.
Five hundred and fifty respondents in the recent poll on The Dalles Happenings Facebook page opposed having the July 4 celebration moved up three days, and just 146 people supported the plan.
Some traditions should not be changed; in fact, to do so is to tear apart the fabric of our society. The Fourth of July is the most important day in America’s rich history. It is the day that 13 colonies formally announced their irrevocable political separation from the government of Great Britain.
The signing of the Declaration was an act of progress with resounding significance. The colonists clearly and concisely asserted a principle radical for its time: “Governments are instituted among men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed.”
Our founders decreed with the Declaration that the people were to rule the government, which was to represent, advocate and serve them.
Citizens of what would become a republican form of government — everyone held to the rule of law — set the framework for individuals to pursue their own interests inside a civil society.
With the stroke of a pen, the Declaration declared the New World the greatest-ever experiment in personal liberties.
The late author Erma Bombeck summed up the beauty of our shared birthday by saying: “You have to love a nation that celebrates its independence every July 4, not with a parade of guns, tanks, and soldiers who file by the White House in a show of strength and muscle, but with family picnics where kids throw Frisbees, the potato salad gets iffy, and the flies die from happiness. You may think you have overeaten, but it is patriotism.”
Independence Day is a time for all Americans to solemnize the signing of the Declaration with “shews, games, sports, guns, bells, bonfires and illuminations.” The proper day to celebrate this nation’s founding is July 4 and the number of visitors who might come to town should not be the motivation nor the priority.
— R.R., M.G.