What July Fourth means to me

July 4, 2018

Ellen Weaver

Former President & CEO

The beach. The mountains. The family cookout. The parade. The fireworks.

In the Weaver house, it’s celebrating my Dad’s birthday. (We’re still not sure if he knows that the festivities aren’t all just about him.) As Americans, we love our Independence Day traditions!

But on that first Independence Day in 1776, the celebration must have been mixed with great solemnity. Lives and fortunes were at stake. The outcome of this experiment in liberty was far from certain.

Every year, I enjoy rereading a short reflection, written by President Ronald Reagan in his own hand, of what Independence Day meant to him. Always the “Great Communicator,” he poignantly encapsulates the gut-wrenching sacrifices made by patriots like South Carolina’s own Edward Rutledge, the Declaration’s youngest signer.

Their fight was not for glory or fame, but for freedom. For an ideal of self-governance and human flourishing that still rings these 242 years later as our clarion call to action.

Yes, the struggle for freedom is never finished. Their fight is still ours. But today, we pause to remember and celebrate.