Many years ago I worked a trade show in Atlantic City with a guy from California. If I work with guys from out of town, sometimes, if we have time, I'll take them somewhere touristy if they've never been. I've taken a couple of guys to Air and Space because it's too cool to miss. On this occasion we went somewhere I'd never been: Independence Hall in Philadelphia.
This and Congress Hall next door are, as far as I'm concerned, the coolest historic sites in America. The world changed here.
Congress Hall is where the early Constitutional amendments were ratified. But today it's Independence Hall that matters.
We're so used to thinking of the United States as dominant that it's hard to imagine how dangerous declaring independence was. England was a world power. The colonies were a backwater.
Independence is not what the colonists had in mind when the revolution started the year before. They begged King George to stop the unrepresented taxation. King George just thought they were too rebellious, so they decided the only sensible course of action was independence. But they were a minor backwater opposing the most powerful nation on Earth, and that powerful nation did not view the colonists as a foreign nation but as traitors. When Benjamin Franklin said "We must indeed all hang together or most assuredly we shall all hang separately," he was not exaggerating.
Seeing the room where this took place, the room in the famous painting, looking the same as it did then is almost eerie. You read about this all your life and it took place right here, a risky decision made that changed Everything.
We are not remotely where we want to be, but where we have gotten is miraculous given our origins. What we have is worth improving and protecting. God knows that has recently become more difficult, scarily difficult, but we've dealt with serious challenges before.
That's the reason this holiday exists.