In stark contrast to the spirit of the barbecues or firework shows you might be attending today, when the Founders signed the Declaration of Independence on this day 246 years ago, the room was filled with “Silence and Gloom.” That’s how Benjamin Rush remembered July 4, 1776. Three and a half decades later, Rush asked John Adams in a letter:
Do you recollect the pensive and awful silence which pervaded the house when we were called up, one after another, to the table of the President of Congress, to subscribe what was believed by many at that time to be our own death warrants?
Adams did indeed. No one in the room ever forgot it. For the rest of their lives, and on the 4th of July especially, they’d recall mutually pledging their “life, fortune, and sacred honor.”
If, after the barbecue and fireworks today, you asked your kids what the 4th of July is all about, what would they say? Would they know about Benjamin Rush and John Adams? Would they know how imperfect those men were? Where their ideas were better than their practices? And the immense work and struggle and sacrifice that came from subsequent generations of ‘founders’ to make those ideas real?
Speaking of putting ideas into practice, in The Girl Who Would Be Free, Epictetus’s father teaches his child that the best ideas aren’t spoken or written, they are lived and embodied. That’s what parenting is all about—modeling the traits and beliefs we want our kids to embody. The Girl Who Would Be Free—an all-ages fable about the upbringing that helped Epictetus survive slavery and go on to become one of the great philosophers of all time—is available right now for pre-order over at dailystoic.com/girl where we are offering a bunch of exclusive bonuses and deals if you order BEFORE July 8th!
We’ve talked about how we have to teach our kids about history. We have to teach them about the Founders. We have to tell them stories of courage. We have to make sure the 4th of July continues to mean something. And that it is more than a celebration but a call, a call to follow in that tradition, an obligation to create a better future.