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As we celebrate, remember the costs

On Wednesday, our great nation will turn 242. For all of those years, America’s military has fought to ensure that a nation founded on freedom would remain free. They’ve bled and died for the freedoms we often take for granted.

As we celebrate America’s birthday, let’s honor the sacrifice of the brave men and women of the military. And let’s do so in a way that would make the founding fathers proud.

Though John Adams missed it by a couple days, here’s his advice on how to celebrate the Fourth of July:  “The Second Day of July 1776 will be the most memorable Epocha 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 Shews, Games, Sports, Guns, Bells, Bonfires and Illuminations from one End of this Continent to the other from this Time forward forever more.”

“You will think me transported with Enthusiasm but I am not. I am well aware of the Toil and Blood and Treasure, that it will cost Us to maintain this Declaration, and support and defend these States. Yet through all the Gloom I can see the Rays of ravishing Light and Glory. I can see that the End is more than worth all the Means. And that Posterity will tryumph in that Days Transaction, even altho We should rue it, which I trust in God We shall not.”

Adams wrote those words in a letter to his wife Abigail on July 3, 1776. Most notably, Adams wrote that the day ought to be commemorated as the “Day of Deliverance by solemn acts of devotion to God Almighty.”

Too often we forget that at the center of the creation of America was a belief in, and reliance on, God. Much has been written about the founding fathers and their religious beliefs — some of it in an attempt to show that God has no place in America. But it’s hard to ignore that “God” appears in the opening paragraph of the Declaration of Independence. “Creator” appears in the second sentence, and in closing, the signers appealed to the “Supreme Judge of the world.”

Adams understood what many of us have forgotten: it will take “toil and blood and treasure to maintain this declaration and support and defend these states.” It has taken the lives of countless soldiers, sailors, marines and airmen.

Let’s not forget that this week as we light “bonfires and illuminations from one end of this continent to the other.”