Jul. 4—OXFORD — John Adams, 21 years away from taking the presidential oath, said on the eve of signing the Declaration of Independence the event "ought to be solemnized with pomp and parade, with shows, games, sports, guns, bells, bonfires, and illuminations, from one end of the continent to the other, from this time forward forever more."
Adams died within minutes of the Declaration's author, Thomas Jefferson, on the 50th anniversary of the signing of that historic document.
Coincidentally, they were the only two Declaration signees who eventually became president of the newly minted country whose freedom and establishment were celebrated Monday.
The city of Oxford, while not checking off all of Adams' celebratory suggestions, took most of them and augmented them with the modern-day traditions of hamburgers, hot dogs and snowcones.
The parade which started the morning did so with pomp and good humor as vehicles of old and those designed by the very young made their way down McCullars Lane on their way to Liberty Park accompanied by a fire truck blaring some patriotic standards including, "You're A Grand Old Flag."
Oxford Arts Council President Jane Batey greeted everyone and handed out awards to the kids in categories such as most original costume and best decorations on a vehicle.
It was mostly a "kids day" at the Oxford Civic Center with a petting zoo, tricycle and bicycle races and free carnival games inside the center which doubled as a reminder of the city's 170th birthday this year.
"I think one of the great things we do in Oxford for July 4th is having so much for the kids," said Mayor Alton Craft. "If we can get the kids involved, it gets the parents involved and makes it a family occasion."
"All of this effort helps these families make those special memories like many of us have and helps the next generations better understand and appreciate the joys and blessings of being an American," Craft said.
Muscogee (Creek) Nation Second Chief Del Beaver, whose ancestors called the area near Choccolocco Park home, was in attendance with his family and acknowledged American Indians see the July 4th celebrations through a different prism.
"What a lot of people may not know is American Indians have served per capita in the U.S. military more than any other race," Beaver said. "We believe in home and protecting your home. This is celebrating the freedoms we have because of those men and women who were willing to risk their lives and protect those things we believe in."
Beaver noted the Declaration "refers to us as 'merciless Indian savages.'"
"That was because of the warfare the British were not used to," Beaver said. "That doesn't offend me because we're pretty good at fighting, but it should prompt people to study history and with all the divisions we see today, hopefully we can take a moment like this and take a deep breath, have a pause in our differences and have fun enjoying each other's company."
Oxford was scheduled to fire off its "illuminations" — as Adams referred to them 246 years ago — over Oxford Lake beginning at 9 p.m.