Symbols That Bind Us Together A Look at Leadership and the 4th of July
If you are from the USA, Happy 4th of July! On this day we remember how the continental congress adopted the document that would declare us independent from the British Empire. This move put the lives of the fifty-six men who signed the document in danger. Due to their courage, a nation was born.
As students of leadership, what can we learn from the solemn commendations of July 4th?
The 4th of July
I am always amazed at the symbols that bind a nation together—a flag, an anthem, a founding document, a national emblem, and special commemorate days like the 4th of July. In the US, school children recite the Pledge of Allegiance each day. Every public officer swears to protect the constitution. Each of these symbols and activities remind us of our shared values, key battles won, the pains of birthing a country, and the courage it took a few persons to bring a dream into fruition. Why is this important for a country? Because it binds citizens and joins them together for the common good, reminds them of the high character they must aspire to, and affirms that their nation is a special one.
My question for us today is: Do we do that for the teams and organizations we lead? Specifically, do we celebrate important dates in the history of our organization, like the 4th of July is celebrated in the US, and most countries also celebrate their independence day?
While we don’t talk about the 4th of July in this manner, in the United States, Independence Day reminds us of who we are—a fiercely free people who will fight for and die for our liberty—that’s what the signers of the Declaration represented.
What days in your family or team can you memorialize yearly that bind you together? What can we create as leaders to bring the people we lead together and remind them of the high character we must have and bind them together in an emotional way?
July 4th is enshrined on our national calendar. It is an emotional day for us. We put flags outside our homes. I put my flag out last night just as my neighbors did. Independence Day was so poignant for our founding fathers as well that three of the first five US Presidents who also were signers of the Declaration of Independence died on the 4th of July. Isn’t that astonishing? On July 4th, 1826, fifty years to the day after the Declaration of Independence was executed, John Adams and Thomas Jefferson, our second and third president both passed away. Five years later on July 4th 1831, James Monroe, our fifth president died. As a doctor, I know that emotional stress can trigger catastrophic events that can lead to death. I think it is safe to say that their death was more than mere coincidence.
As you participate in your country’s national holidays, and raise your flag and sing your anthem, let these symbols not only be a reminder of your fidelity to your nation, but also that you need to help create symbols and commemorations to rally the people you lead together and impress upon them the high calling and noble character you aim to have in your organization.
Happy 4th of July to you all!
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