Friday is July 4, our nation’s birthday, Independence Day.

Friday is July 4, our nation’s birthday, Independence Day.

It’s a day for picnics, cookouts and fireworks.

It’s a day to celebrate.

And wow can we celebrate.

The Pine Bluff Festival Association and the Pine Bluff Parks and Recreation Department are hosting this year’s July 4th celebration at Regional Park. Children’s activities start and food vendors open at 5 p.m. Live entertainment starts at 6. And of course, it’s show time at 9 p.m., the starting time for south Arkansas’ largest fireworks display, which is sponsored by Simmons First National Bank, Relyance Bank and the Pine Bluff Festival Association.

Many thousands are expected to come out and celebrate.

But what is it we are celebrating? Are we just celebrating a holiday from work, a great hot dog or a pyrotechnics show?

Of course not.

Future president John Adams wrote his wife Abigail from Philadelphia, where the the Second Continental Congress was convened in 1776, saying July 2 would become the most memorable day in American history, a day Americans would celebrate annually with festivals and more.

"I am apt to believe that (July 2) will be celebrated, by succeeding generations, as the great anniversary festival," Adams wrote. "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 shows, games, sports, guns, bells, bonfires and illuminations from one end of this continent to the other from this time forward forever more. You will think me transported with enthusiasm but I am not — I am well aware of the toil and blood and treasure, that it will cost us to maintain this declaration, and support and defend these States.

"Yet through all the gloom I can see the rays of ravishing light and glory. I can see that the end is more than worth all the means. And that posterity will tryumph in that day’s transaction, even altho we should rue it, which I trust in God we shall not."

Adams thought the day the Second Continental Congress approved a resolution of independence would be the one we would celebrate.

Instead, every schoolchild is taught the importance of the date two days later when the Continental Congress formally approved America’s Declaration of Independence from Great Britain.

July 4 represents the day we became the United States of America.

On Friday, we will gather with friends and family to celebrate this great country. We will watch magnificent explosions of colors fill the night sky, or as Adams said "illuminations from one end of this continent to the other."

We will stand when we hear the opening bars of the "Star-Spangled Banner."

Patriotism — that devotion, pride, support, loyalty for your country — will be out in full force Friday.

We hope it carries over for 365 more days until we celebrate the 239th birthday of this land.

Because no matter whether we agree or disagree with the decisions our leaders make, no matter the state of our economy, no matter whether we want change, there is no mistaking we are blessed to live in the land of the free, the home of the brave.