On this Independence Day, I give you one of the greatest-ever Americans, and one of my personal heroes, John F. Kennedy, reading the text of the Declaration of Independence. I’m not sure exactly when this was recorded or under what circumstances, except I’m told it was when Kennedy was in the Senate, which would put it sometime in the 1950s.

The act of reading the Declaration of Independence aloud is especially meaningful. Some historians argue that it was not the adoption of the Declaration, or the signing of it–neither of which occurred on July 4, 1776–that was the true moment of American independence, but the first public reading of it, which did occur on July 4. (The Continental Congress was not in session on July 4, 1776). Especially in the Early Republic era, public reading of the document was always the most important element of the celebration. In recent decades we’ve tended to deemphasize this aspect of celebration, but some have kept it alive, like Kennedy here.

Have a wonderful 4th of July!