You cannot be, I know, nor do I wish to see you, an inactive spectator … We have too many high sounding words, and too few actions that correspond with them.

~ Abigail Adams[i]

02-15-09 © andipantz, courtesy of iStockphoto

On July 2, 1997, Jefferson Smith, or at least the actor who played him in Mr. Smith Goes to Washington, died. James Stewart portrayed the Senator who opposed the corrupt Washington political machine. Although the actor didn’t really take on such a role in life, the movie’s appeal stirs the desire for such leaders to rise up in our nation once again.

  • July 2nd has much notoriety.

It’s the anniversary of many historical events. Count Ferdinand von Zeppelin’s dirigible balloon took its first flight on this day. Actress Betty Grable, the favorite pin-up girl of World War II veterans, died on July 2nd. An assassin’s bullets struck President James Garfield also on this date.

  • July 2nd should be an important day for African-Americans.

It serves as the sesquicentennial of the bloodiest day of the Civil War. It was the turning point of that conflict – the battle of Gettysburg. Because of the Union army’s defeat of Lee’s forces, the US moved closer to ending the war … and abolishing slavery.

It’s more than ironic that President Lyndon B. Johnson also signed the US Civil Rights Bill on this date in 1964.

  • But what makes this date special to all Americans occurred in 1776.

On July 2nd, the Founding Fathers voted to declare their independence from British tyranny. Even though we now celebrate America’s birthday on July 4th because our leaders signed The Declaration of Independence on that date, the legal separation began on July 2nd when the Continental Congress voted to end abusive government rule.

  • That’s why John Adams wrote these words:

The second day of July, 1776, will be the most memorable epoch 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 shows, games, sports, guns, bells, bonfires, and illuminations, from one end of this continent to the other, from this time forward forever more.[ii]

  • More than ever we must look to the Founding Fathers’ ideals.

As there are many current scandals ongoing in Washington, we mustn’t forget why these Founding Fathers desired independence from big government. They knew in their hearts that the government should exist for the people, and they were willing to die to achieve that goal. They saw the wrongs, and they acted to make things right – just as the heroic Jefferson Smith did in Mr. Smith Goes to Washington.


We live, my dear soul, in an age of trial. What will be the consequence, I know not.

~ John Adams to Abigail Adams, 1774[iii]


How will you commemorate our nation’s declaration of independence?


[i] David McCullough, John Adams (New York: Simon & Schuster, 2001), 17.

[ii] Letter from John Adams to Abigail Adams, 3 July 1776, “Had a Declaration…” [electronic edition]. Adams Family Papers: An Electronic Archive. Massachusetts Historical Society., retrieved July 2, 2013.

[iii] McCullough, 13.