On this day 234 years ago, July 4th, 1776, those men called our Founding Fathers set quill to parchment and boldly signed their names to a document announcing the unthinkable: they were severing their ties to the country they’d called their own for decades and to the man they’d called their king. Those words laid the foundation for an epic struggle and for a nation of free men and of law to rise.
IN CONGRESS, July 4, 1776.
The unanimous Declaration of the thirteen united States of America,
When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.
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.
Once upon a time my fellow Americans expected each of their fellows to know these words and to understand the gravity that lead to their genesis. There’s been some slippage of that but we can, each of us, bring to mind those events and the sacrifices of those men who signed at the bottom of that letter. This was no ordinary petition to be delivered to someone who would, respectful of their position or not, leave them in peace. The penalty for failure would be as high as it gets in this world. They weighed the danger against the promise of the rights and freedom their Creator bestowed upon them and against those of their generations to come. Doing so, they rose up, signed that document, and put into the hands of Providence their hopes and prayers for a free nation.
On this day, at the very least, let us resolve to be worthy of those sacrifices. Let us take the moment to truly pass along those values to our kids and to our fellow Americans who may have either forgotten or simply grown up without the example defined. And let us also be truly ready to defend those values from whatever threat may come, from the mortal to the casual slight offered. Stand fast, my fellow Americans, and Declare.