[This is the second in an on-going series about reclaiming national holidays/holy-days.]
First, this holiday does not commemorate winning independence from Great Britain (via either the Siege of Yorktown that ended on October 19, 1781, or the Treaty of Paris that was signed on September 3, 1783). It is not a military remembrance. Nor is it a celebration of the creation of something called “the United States of America” which did not happen until the adoption of the Constitution (September 17, 1787).
This is about a day when colonized, oppressed people banded together, declaring their intent to throw off the chains of the colonizer. This is a about a day when thoughtful persons, after impassioned debate, announced to their colonizer and to the world that they weren’t going to take it any more, and articulated their reasons and their intention to dissolve those shackles. This is about a day when these people enshrined life and liberty and, yes, the pursuit of happiness as inalienable rights that inhere in being human beings…human beings who are equal in all respects to their colonizers.
What could it mean to have a day each year to celebrate life and to celebrate liberty and to celebrate the pursuit of happiness? What could it mean to set aside 24 hours annually to support efforts to end colonization, in whatever contemporary forms it adopts? What could it mean to take this day to name oppression and articulate our reasons and our intention to dissolve shackles that deny any fellow human beings their full and equal rights?
THIS would indeed be a holy-day, worthy of marking annually and celebrating!