Founding Father John Adams believed that today, July 2, was the correct date on which to celebrate the birth of American independence, and he reportedly would turn down invitations to appear at July 4 events in protest.
That’s because the actual vote for independence took place on July 2. But the Continental Congress adopted the Declaration of Independence — which had been written largely by Adams’ lifelong rival Thomas Jefferson — two days later, on July 4, 1776. And July 4 prevailed to become the date we celebrate.
As the Adams-Jefferson calendar jousting demonstrates, Americans have disagreed since the beginning of the republic about many things … even when to honor important historical events.
Despite deep and sometimes violent schisms in our nation, we have overcome it all to remain strong and intact.
COVID-19 is the most recent test of our national ability to persevere and overcome. Once again, disagreements ran deep. Throughout the pandemic, people argued over masking requirements, the power of public health officials, the closing of schools and other institutions, and many other issues.
On this July Fourth, 245 years after the birth of our nation, COVID-19 has caused more than 600,000 deaths so far in the U.S., surpassing the number of Americans killed in World War II, the Korean War and the Vietnam War combined. And we grieve deeply for every life lost.
But in recent months, due largely to an unprecedented national vaccination effort, the number of COVID-19 cases and deaths has fallen sharply. While the pandemic may remain a lower-level threat for years to come, we are resuming normal lives. Once again, we have survived … and overcome.
Hospitals’ advances in clinical care and delivery system reforms share a lot of the credit in our battle to save lives — and to get shots as soon as possible into willing arms.
Moreover, it is important to recognize that taxpayer-funded government research paved the way for the swift development of U.S. COVID-19 vaccines. For decades, our government invested extensively in every aspect of the basic science, preclinical development and clinical trials … compiling knowledge that private manufacturers put to effective use in the race to ensure vaccines were available to the American public as quickly as possible.
July Fourth is traditionally a time to give thanks for our freedom and democracy, and honor the constitutional architects who designed it for us. This year, we also thank and honor every brave and selfless health care worker in America — the front-line heroes who never stopped caring, serving and comforting patients through a time unlike any other in our history. In fact, these incredible people have earned a Star Spangled Banner all their own.
The lyrics go in part:
“We see what you’ve been through, this is what you’re called to do.
You know this is nothing new, so just do what you’re born to do.”
Through the pandemic, hospitals and health systems and their care teams carried out their mission, doing what they were called to do.
Today, as we reflect on those who fought for our independence and the creation of our democracy, let's also be sure to include today’s patriots … the brave women and men who, like our forebears so long ago, gave all they had to preserve and protect their fellow citizens.
Thank you for everything you do to advance health in America ... today and every day.
From all of us at the AHA, we hope you and your loved ones have a safe and happy Fourth of July.