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Editorial: Independence Day, 2012

This Wednesday, July 4 is the nation’s 236th birthday. Some things about Independence Day have remained the same. People associate the day with fireworks. That has been true from the beginning, even though they were called “illuminations” back in the 18th and 19th centuries. Some have changed. Independence Day was about far more than loud noises. It was once common practice for people to gather at a picnic and then for a local resident, usually the town lawyer, to get up and read the entire Declaration of Independence, right from “In the course of human events” to “we pledge our sacred honor.” We can think of only a few places where that is performed today and usually, it is only a portion of the document, not the entire text. There are probably millions and millions of college graduates who can’t even tell you who wrote the declaration not to mention what it says. The old practice of actually reading the declaration is one in dire need of revitalization.

— J.S.