Independence Day/ Fourth of July – In many ways, this holiday celebrates the beginning of our recognition that we all come from very diverse backgrounds, yet are all equals. Read this exerpt from the Declaration of Independence:
We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.
With this remarkable declaration of rights, the Second Continental Congress made the Declaration of Independence the “first formal pronouncement by an organized body of people of the right to government by choice” and severed colonial ties with England. Members of the Congress adopted Thomas Jefferson’s declaration on July 4, 1776, and this date became the birthday of the United States of America.
Independence Day was first celebrated on July 8, 1776, when the Declaration of Independence was read to the public. By the 1880′s, the Fourth of July had become the most significant patriotic occasion in the United States. Congress declared the day a federal legal holiday in 1941.
Filipino-American Friendship Day – First celebrated on July 4, 1963. Before this date, since 1946, the Filipino people celebrated July 4 as Philippine Independence Day. This was the day, back in 1946, when United States President Harry S. Truman proclaimed United States withdrawal, surrendering all rights of possession, supervision, jurisdiction and control of sovereignty, and recognizing the independence of the Philippines. This holiday highlights the enduring relations between the Philippines and the United States. Various factors strengthen these ties, including a shared history and a common commitment to democratic values.
We also celebrate Filipino-American Friendship Day to celebrate the numerous beneficial effects generated by mutual trust and friendship among nations, and remind the world that friendly ties are the foundations of lasting international ties. Mabuhay ang Pilipinas at Estados Unidos!
July 26 commemorates the Anniversary of the Signing of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) – The ADA is a wide-ranging civil rights law that prohibits, under certain circumstances, discrimination based on disability. It affords similar protections against discrimination to Americans with disabilities as the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which made discrimination based on race, religion, sex, national origin, and other characteristics illegal. Disability is defined by the ADA as “a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits a major life activity.” The determination of whether any particular condition is considered a disability is made on a case by case basis. Certain specific conditions are excluded as disabilities, such as current substance abuse and visual impairment which is correctable by prescription lenses.
The original intent of the law was to create civil rights law protections for people with disabilities that would be permanent and would prohibit all discrimination. It also works to keep Americans with disabilities in the mainstream of scientific and medical research and developments, as well as public policy changes, health care law and policy changes and civil rights protections. It was intended to be a flexible set of laws that could only be strengthened, not weakened, by future case law.
In addition to the above, the following holidays are also celebrated during July:
July 9 – Martyrdom of the Bab (Baha’i)
July 20 – Lailat-Ul-Quadr (Islamic, Muslim)
July 24 – Pioneer Day (Mormon)
July 28 – Tisha B’av (Jewish)
July 31 – Feast of St. Ignatius Loyola (Spain, Roman Catholic)
However you choose to celebrate, please take some time this month to learn a little bit about your friends, colleagues and neighbors.