Independence Day is commonly associated with fireworks, parades, barbecues, carnivals, fairs, picnics, concerts, baseball games, political speeches and other ceremonies. The Fourth of July is indeed the national day of the United States.

Benjamin Franklin, a member of the committee which drafted the Declaration of Independence, warned his colleagues that “We must all hang together, or assuredly we shall all hang separately.”

Those brave leaders could not have envisioned the United States of America today, 240 years after her birth.

John Adams and Thomas Jefferson, who went on to become the second and third of our presidents, respectively, are the only American presidents to have signed the Declaration of Independence July 4, 1776 in Philadelphia. They were among 56 men who literally laid their lives on the line by signing that precious document, of which Jefferson was the principal author.

Both would die July 4, 1826 within hours of each other. Jefferson passed at Monticello, VA., and Adams at Quincy, MA. Interestingly, James Monroe was the third and last American president to die on the Fourth of July. His death occurred in 1831.

It’s highly unlikely the signers could have predicted the amazing advances in transportation, communication and the medical field. We’ve gone to the moon, developed ophisticated computers, and doctors have learned how to cure diseases and transplant hearts and other organs. The world today would have blown the minds of our founding fathers.

Nevertheless, those of us alive on this great day have something in common with the Washingtons, Jeffersons, Adamses and Franklins. Their freedom has remained our freedom.

Adams wrote to his wife, Abigail, “I am apt to believe that it will be celebrated, by succeeding generations, as the great anniversary festival. It ought to be commemorated, as the Day of Deliverance by solemn acts of devotion to God almighty. It ought to be solemnized with pomp and parade, with games, sports, guns, bells, bonfires and illuminations from one end of this continent to the other, from this time forward, forever more.”

Those words continue to inspire our country and give Americans a collective sense of great patriotic pride.