Declaration of Independence (1776)
"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."
Two hundred and thirty-two years ago, on July 2, 1776, a group of courageous colonists, meeting in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, read aloud the final draft of a document which would change the course of world history. Penned by a Virginia colonist and leader named Thomas Jefferson, it had been approved by a commitee of five other rebels just a short time before the formal reading was rendered. With those bold, ringing words, those brave men declared the freedom of all thirteen of America's colonies from the British crown and King George the Third. Two days later, on July 4th, they signed their names to it, pledging their very lives to the cause of American liberty.
That Declaration of Independence became the founding document of what would become known as the United States of America. Our nation. Mine and yours alike. It told the world of the reasons why America was separating itself from the oppressive tyranny of the British Empire. These founding fathers possessed brilliant minds, though many had little formal education, and through the next seven years of a brutal and often bitter Revolutionary War, their common dream of liberty kept them going until the struggle finally ended. A constitution was then written, the thirteen colonies became independent states, and the rest, as they say, is history.
Today, in 2008, as we eat hot dogs and hamburgers -- those purely American creations that we all love -- and watch the fireworks tonight, we should all pause and reflect on what those courageous men accomplished on our behalf, on what our freedom and liberty means, and of all the brave men, then and since then, that have died defending the liberty that was declared in that document. It wouldn't hurt to re-read the Declaration of Independence today, if you can make the time. It's short and don't take that long to read at all. And its meaning is as perfectly clear today as it was at the time it was written.
Here are some thoughts of mine on this Independence Day, for what it's worth:
Freedom isn't free. Throughout the entire course of human history, nations that have attained their freedom have always had to fight for it. And they've had to fight to maintain it, because some other envious entity is always trying to take it away from you. For that reason, we should never take our freedom for granted. If we become too complacent, we run the risk of losing the very thing this nation was founded on and which we value most of all.
One hundred and fifty years ago, Abraham Lincoln said: "America will never be taken from without. If it should ever fall, it will be from within." Wise words, and ones very much worth heeding and remembering, for all Americans. Be watchful and aware of what's happening right here at home, especially in our government. There are forces at work, here and now, that want to destroy our freedom and put us all in some kind of mass collective. They seem to promise some utopian "paradise," but they will deliver tyranny. And that tyranny already exists, on some levels. It must be stopped; squashed before it can spread further. We must be ever watchful, then rise up as one and speak with one overpowering voice in putting it to an end.
If we go to sleep -- if we falter -- everything that those founding fathers stood for will come crashing down and everything countless thousands of soldiers died for over all these years will be lost. And it will never return again.
Think about it, while you're eating your hot dog today.