What started as a unanimous adoption of the Declaration of Independence on July 4, 1776 by the Continental Congress, gave rise to a revolutionary war and the birth of a nation. This is the 247th year of an annual celebration. The activities of observing the holiday across the nation include parades, concerts, fireworks display, family cookouts and more. The fanfare might be showy and grand but the meaning is clear and straightforward for all of us – it is a celebration of a country built on ideas of equality and principles of “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness”. Such words carry significant weight and are never to be taken for granted particularly at the time of democratic backsliding and increased erosions on equality.
The first readings of the Declaration were made in Philadelphia squares and met with bonfires and the ringing of bells. No other holiday is so intricately linked with a document and consequently its power. From a young age and through most of our lives, we are used to seeing it appear in textbooks, reproduced in museums, presented in libraries and shown in works of fiction and nonfiction. Each time and in every appearance the Declaration of Independence makes a powerful statement about us. The Founding fathers wrote a document that announced the expressed desire of a people to be freed from their ruler. In early 20th century, Vatra’s founders recognized their shared commitment to the same ideals that inspired the hearts of many patriots and fueled the Albanian national movement for independence. At the end of that century, the fulfillment of human aspirations was at the basis of Kosova’s war for freedom that led to its liberation in 1999. Two American statesman, respectively, President Wilson and President Clinton have advocated for and played a major role in the history of Albania and Kosova. The 42nd President, who is currently in Albania, was honored for his part in bringing peace and stability to the Balkan region.
The path forward is laden with challenges for Albanians in the Balkans. In the ongoing battle that requires hard work and dedication, Albanians honor the long-term friendship with America rooted in the commitment to the principles outlined in a forward thinking document adopted in 1776.
In the course of the activities you may have planned for today, it might be prudent to read the Declaration of Independence, which is pivotal in the history of the United States and the history of democracy.
God Bless America!
God Bless the Albanian nation!