Happy Birthday America

Ever wonder where that phrase “put your John Hancock on the dotted line” came from?  Well the expression refers to John Hancock, the president of the Second Continental Congress, who was the first to sign the Declaration of Independence.  Hancock’s expansive signature is prominent on the document. Since then, when people are asked for their "John Hancock," they are being asked to sign their names.  He immediately became famous for signing the Declaration with a far larger signature than all the other delegates. The actual expression however didn’t come into use until c.1903.  

The Declaration of Independence itself has become one of the most admired and copied political documents of all time.  It was written by Thomas Jefferson and revised by John Adams, Benjamin Franklin and Jefferson.  As the United States of America celebrates its 231st birthday this year (2007), we as citizens, should remember how this great nation was founded and take a moment to celebrate and embrace the goodness that makes us great.

July 4, 2007 is a day to celebrate the generations of men and women who have sacrificed their time, energy and often their lives in order to build a better country.  This is an opportunity to reflect upon the deeds of our founding fathers and to consider the means by which we might continue to guard those essential freedoms that we associate with happiness.  So, where do we find the greatness today?  We see it in the brave soldiers who risk everything to secure freedom abroad.  But we also see it in those everyday Americans who revel in the everyday joys and responsibilities of raising a family.

French Writer and politician Alexis de Tocqueville noted over a century ago:

“I sought for the greatness and genius of America in her commodious harbors and her ample rivers, and it was not there; in the fertile fields and boundless prairies, and it was not there; in her rich mines and her vast world commerce, and it was not there.  Not until I went into the churches of America and heard her pulpits aflame with righteousness did I understand the secret of her genius and power.  America is great because America is good — and if America ever ceases to be good, America will cease to be great.”

As we continually witness the constant struggles of many countries, and with due respect to our allies and enemies, the United States of America is still the most successful country.  So fire up the grill, go to the beach, revel in the patriotic music at the concerts and most of all enjoy your family and friends!