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.
With these words our Founding Fathers began a letter to the King of England in which they stood a separate and equal people on their feet to look into the eye of their former sovereign and assert that they were as much the masters of their fate as any on Earth, including the King. The letter was adopted 238 years ago today. Many who signed this document did so knowing full well their fate if they should fail or come back under the control of the king. Several met that fate and would not live to see the nation they envisioned, free of Britain’s rule, come to fruition. Their sacrifice enables us to live in the freedom they dreamed of without so much as a casual thought.
Today, we should be mindful of that and work to bring the enormity of what their actions and this Declaration meant to our full attention. In the years since then many have given their all – literally and figuratively – to ensure this nation’s liberty and to bring to reality the vision of those Founders long ago. Whether it’s a soldier standing fast in the face of overwhelming odds and near-certain death or a student nervously refusing to sit quietly while this nation’s greatness is mocked by a teacher or an average citizen who doesn’t let the rain deter him from casting a vote or a woman who refuses to take a seat in the back of a bus, Americans throughout these past 2¼ centuries have braved trials big and small to see the promise of this Declaration brought to us all.
On this day, as we enjoy parades, grill up a wonderful meal, and hoist a cold brew in celebration let us recall our fellow patriots and Americans who have brought us this day and take a quiet vow to measure up to their example.
Happy Independence Day, America.
(This updated post was first published in 2009, but it rings true today.)