John Adams had it wrong.
When the Continental Congress voted in favor of Virginia Delegate Richard Henry Lee’s resolution for independence on July 2, 1776, John Adams figured the day would be one for the history books. He wrote to his wife Abigail that July 2 “will be celebrated, by succeeding generations, as the great anniversary festival” and that the celebration should include “Pomp and parade . . . games, sports, guns, bells, bonfires and illuminations from one end of this continent to the other.”
Umm, want to try again there Johnny! Of course, Adams, American Statesman, the second U.S. President, and Founding Father, was off by two days.
Instead of the actual vote, we mark July 4, the day the Continental Congress formally adopted the Declaration of Independence, as the birth of independence. War would continue on until the General Cornwallis surrendered Yorktown in 1781 and the Treaty of Paris made it official two years later. Through it all, few people actually celebrated July 2.
I think of this story every July, because it serves a great lesson for me in overcoming my mistakes. We all have our failings. Adams’ may have been a prolific writer, diplomat and leader, but one of his big failings obviously included looking into a crystal ball and predicting the future. But more than that, whether or not we celebrate July 2 or July 4, the actual day doesn’t matter. What matters is that we celebrate the event and Adams nailed that one. In the end, Adam’s heart, if not his prediction, was in the right place.
My decisions on any number of topics may be wrong at any one point in time, but I’m hopeful that my heart is always in the right place.
Whether you choose to celebrate on July 2 or July 4, Happy Independence Day!