". . . and having done all . . . stand firm." Eph. 6:13


Why Celebrate Independence Day?

July 4, 2023

The New York Times reports that a growing number of Americans, especially younger people, are rethinking whether they want to celebrate Independence Day. As we approach Independence Day, patriotism is at an all-time low. According to a poll of over 3,000 Americans taken by Morning Consult in late 2022, only 16% of Gen Z adults or “Zoomers” (ages 18-25) said they are “proud” to be American. This is the lowest percentage of any American generation.

Let that sink in: A net of 84% percent of Zoomers, the youngest adults, are not that proud to be American. Plus, only 36% of millennials (ages 26-41) are proud to be American. So that means nearly 2/3 of millennials are not patriotic. Consequently, that is an overwhelming majority of young adults who are not proud to be American, and together, Zoomers and millennials make up nearly 43% of the U.S. population.

It is not all that surprising. When government institutions, from K-12 and especially colleges and universities, have taught a couple of generations of young people that America is a hopelessly flawed country — racist, misogynist, bigoted, homo and transphobic — we shouldn’t be shocked that they are not patriotic. The future of American patriotism appears bleak. In fact, a Wall Street Journal/NORC poll released at the end of March 2023 found that only 21% of Americans believe that the United States “stands above all countries in the world.”

While it is not surprising, it is somewhat ironic. Unprecedented freedom in America has fueled the greatest wealth generating engine ever witnessed, resulting in the highest standard of living ever enjoyed by any nation in the history of the world. Think about it. Americans comprise only 4.3% of the world’s population and yet we command nearly 30% of the world’s wealth. No one has ever had it better than we do, yet the younger recipients of such freedom and prosperity seem to be more angry than appreciative about America.

Contrast that entitled attitude with the sacrifices made by the Founders, who in recent years have become the target of the woke mob seeking to “cleanse” America of all their alleged bad influences. Were the 56 Signers of the Declaration of Independence perfect? No, they were all flawed because they were all sinners. Yet they were “all in” when it came to freedom and the future of America. In fact, they made quite a statement to conclude our founding document: “And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes and our sacred Honor.”

We normally think of a bunch of decrepit old guys making such a patriotic pledge. Yet 2/3 of the Signers were 50 and under (37 of 56). In fact, more than 1/3 of the Signers were 40 and under (21 total). Thomas Jefferson, who famously drafted the Declaration of Independence was only 33 at the time. John Adams, who served with Jefferson on the Declaration committee, was 40 as was John Hancock, the president of the Second Continental Congress. These leaders would have been millennials in our day.

The youngest of the Signers were Thomas Lynch, Jr. and Edward Rutledge of South Carolina and George Walton of Georgia — all 26-year-olds. So, they would have been barely beyond the Zoomer generation today. Why would these 26-year-olds sign that Declaration and risk their lives for America? They had a firm faith in Almighty God, believed the American cause was just, and prayed that God would intervene on their behalf for liberty.

For example, Thomas Lynch wrote to General George Washington on January 16, 1776, after successes at Trenton and Princeton: “In this State of things, I have, besides my Dependance on the Continuance of the Favour of Heaven, Trust in two Supports alone, the one, on your Vigorous Exertions, the other on the Weakness of our Enemies.” Edward Rutledge also wrote Washington on September 11, 1776: “Our Reliance continues therefore to be (under God) on your Wisdom & Fortitude & that of your Forces.”

Part of a three-man committee serving the state Provincial Congress, George Walton addressed Georgians regarding the day of prayer set aside by the state and Continental Congress in July, 1775, adding: “We humbly hope many earnest prayers have been presented to the Father of Mercies [2 Cor. 1:3] on that day, through this extensive continent, and that He has heard the cries of the destitute, and will not despise their prayers [Psalm 102:17]. You will permit us most earnestly to recommend to you a steady perseverance in the cause of Liberty, and that you will use all possible caution not to say or do anything unworthy of so glorious a cause; to promote frugality, peace and good order, and in the practice of every social and religious duty, patiently to wait the return of that happy day, when we may quietly ‘sit under our vine and fig-tree, and no man make us afraid’ [Micah 4:4].”

All three of these young men took great pride in founding America, so much so that they were willing to sign their names to that document which essentially put a target on their backs. Yet not one of these men waited for the British to hunt them down. All three of these young patriots signed up to serve in their state militias.

Captain Thomas Lynch contracted malaria while on a recruiting trip into North Carolina in 1775. After signing the Declaration on August 2, 1776, recurring illness compelled him to travel with his wife to France to seek medical help, but their ship was lost at sea in 1779. Lynch died before he was 30. 

Lieutenant Colonel Edward Rutledge commanded an artillery unit in the Battle of Beaufort under Gen. William Moultrie in 1779. However, when Charleston fell to the British in May 1780, Rutledge was captured along with Arthur Middleton and Thomas Heyward, fellow South Carolina signers of the Declaration. They were eventually taken to the British fort at St. Augustine, Florida and held as POWs from September until July of 1781.

Colonel George Walton of the Georgia militia was shot off his horse and captured while defending Savannah from British attack on December 28, 1778. In the aftermath of the battle, it was discovered that Walton’s femur was broken by the musket ball, but a British doctor saved his leg. He struggled to walk again as a POW in the occupied town of Sunbury. Walton was finally released in a prisoner exchange in the fall of 1779, but he limped the rest of his life.

Again, why would these young men risk everything for America? They had faith in God and believed America was a transcendent cause, one that was greater than themselves. One that was worth fighting for, yes, even suffering and dying for.

Why celebrate July 4? To honor the God to whom these patriots desperately appealed and who graciously gave us an improbable victory over the greatest military in the world, and with it, our freedom. And to celebrate the brave souls who put their lives on the line to secure our independence so that we might enjoy that freedom and all of its fruit. So, when you gather with family and friends for Independence Day, take a moment to tell stories about these young men, thank God for the America they founded, and remind them that America is not only worth celebrating, but it is still worth fighting for.